“What happened to oil in the late 1970s?” was a question assigned to me in elementary school to discuss with family over the Christmas holiday break. At the time, this question seemed innocent enough, and I didn’t know how my family would react about what I soon learned to be two oil embargos. Turns out when I brought it up one night, extended family members held a broad spectrum of views on the issue, and the question led to one of the most heated dinner arguments I can recall – until this year, at least. This holiday, family discussions focused on the presidential election. Fierce conversation ensued on standout topics. But, to my dismay, energy and the environment were just an afterthought.
While it is clear that these topics did not play a decisive role in the election, 2017 will nevertheless bring a new set of challenges for energy and environmental policy and elevate the conversation to a higher level. Progress we’ve made in the past few years, including environmental protections and the continuity of agencies that support them, are at risk of being undercut by the new administration, and policies that will protect future generations are at peril. At the federal level, the fight to stop climate change looks bleak.
As Environmental Defense Fund recently noted in California, Illinois, Maryland, and Ohio, clear and deliberate leadership at the state and local levels will become even more important to advance clean energy goals. Fortunately, New York’s history of advancing favorable environmental policies have resulted in valuable lessons that can be adapted and implemented in other states to increase economic development, create jobs, decrease pollution, and improve the quality of life of people throughout the country. Read More
Throughout the United States, utilities earn a profit through a tried and true regulatory model that has worked well for over 100 years. This model was built on the assumption that customers would use ever increasing amounts of electricity, and it worked for some time. But, as the need to save power and make electric systems more efficient becomes essential to adapt to climate change, this and other assumptions no longer hold true. Without changing how utilities are compensated, we run the risk of experiencing a true irony: utilities, the cradles from which our modern civilization rose, may become the chains preventing us from advancing toward a clean energy future.
Last week, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) – which regulates the state’s utilities – took action to transition to a new model aligned with Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the state’s initiative to transform the electric grid into a cleaner, more efficient and affordable system. By issuing the “Order Adopting a Ratemaking and Utility Revenue Model Policy Framework,” the PSC is changing how New York’s utilities will be compensated, taking a major step to break the chains holding utilities back, and moving from a system where utilities get paid according to how much electricity they sell to one where utilities are compensated for producing environmental benefits aligned with the public good. Read More
Superheroes are all the rage these days. Whether at the theater or on our TV screens, we are surrounded by stories of powerful men and women working to make the world a better place.
And what would a good superhero be without a thriving metropolis to defend? If you want a great setting for your hero, look no further than New York. Known by a variety of names in the comics (Gotham, etc.), New York is where heroes go to prove themselves and save the day.
But what if I were to tell you that superheroes are not only real, they are being placed in public and private organizations around New York this summer to work towards making our city and state more energy efficient? Read More
Do you remember where were you were and what you were doing the day the first iPhone was released? What about the moment when Senator Obama became a real contender for the White House? It is rare to experience a pivotal moment in history, and appreciate its significance in real time.
Last week, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a plan by New York’s largest utility, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), to distribute advanced meters (also known as “smart meters”) to more than 3.2 million electric and 1.2 million gas customers in New York City. Advanced meters, a key component of the smart grid, can unlock the many benefits of clean energy while empowering customers to take charge of their energy use. For me, this move by the PSC was a pivotal moment in New York City’s history. Read More
By: Rory Christian and Jacob Robinson
The seventh annual Climate Week NYC has kicked off, and it's invigorating to reflect on the progress to date since last September when over 400,000 activists demanded bold climate action at the People's Climate March. During the last year, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has continued to observe and nourish the growing appetite among America’s business community to move together on carbon reduction. This movement should not be understated, especially as New York regulators continue to move forward with the “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding.
Outlined in a set of regulatory proceedings, in which EDF has been deeply embedded, this vision for a cleaner, more affordable energy future has the potential to spur innovation, modernize the electric grid, and transform the century-old electricity system as we know it. If done right, REV will prepare New York for a future in which clean distributed energy resources (DERs) – such as microgrids, rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, and other on-site energy options – will play an increasingly important role in how the state makes, moves, interacts with, and uses energy.
While it’s important that governments craft the clean energy rulebooks, leadership can and should also come from industry, as EDF’s Tom Murray urged earlier this year. Organizations across sectors are already paving the road for strong regulatory reform that values clean DERs and customer engagement. EDF’s own Climate Corps program is proof of this. But what New York’s business leaders really want is regulatory certainty that the clean energy investments they’re making now – or at least considering –will pay off once NY REV is implemented. Read More
These are exciting times. New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has paved the way for change of unprecedented proportions. New York regulators are preparing the state for a future in which rooftop solar installations are ubiquitous and the rumbling staccato of gasoline-fueled automobiles is replaced by the relative silence of electric vehicles.
While more rooftop solar energy and electric vehicles are certainly part of our energy future, some of the biggest changes are likely to come from less visible – and less obvious – sources, particularly for customers in densely populated metropolitan areas and low-income customers, who make up a significant portion of New York state’s customer base.
Urban dwellers, for whom mass transit is a central part of daily life and owning your own rooftop is less common, may view electric cars, rooftop solar, wind, battery storage, and on-site energy generation as appealing, but also abstractions more suitable for upstate homeowners than those living in crowded apartment buildings.
For these customers, the opportunity to contribute to a clean energy future will be guided largely by the domain of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: economic forces that enable greater control over how much energy is used and at what price. Read More