Author Archives: Rory Christian

New York Takes a Major Step toward Rethinking Utility Economics

NY Lights BridgeThroughout 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 »

Posted in Grid Modernization, New York, Utility Business Models| Read 9 Responses

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it's Energy Savings for New York!

NY-Beautiful SkySuperheroes 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 »

Posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, New York| Read 2 Responses

An Historic Moment: Advanced Meters Make their Way to New York City

NYC at nightDo 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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, New York, Time of Use| Read 1 Response

Business is Ready for “Reforming the Energy Vision” in New York

By: Rory Christian and Jacob Robinson

REV Blog RevisedThe 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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, General, New York, Utility Business Models| Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

Who Could Benefit Most from Fair Electricity Pricing? Low-Income Customers

new york city 2These 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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Equity, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Amid Global Efforts, New York Plants Seeds for Energy Reform in 2014 That Will Bloom in 2015

2015_new_yearIn the future, when we look back on 2014, I believe it will be remembered as the tipping point for climate action. In the Northeast, we’ll remember the devastating early-season snowstorm that caused over a dozen deaths. In the Southwest, many will remember the third-straight year of a drought that seems without end. And, nationally, many will remember 2014 as one of the hottest years in recorded history – the hottest since 2010 and the 11th time the record for hottest year has been set since 1998.

In a year punctuated by extreme weather across the country and the globe, 2014 will also be remembered as the year when seeds of coordinated global action to address climate change first took root. The federal Clean Power Plan, the Lima Climate Agreement, the United Nations Climate Summit, and the U.S.-China Climate Accord, among other major milestones, all highlight the growing awareness and importance of taking action to address climate change. Though many view these events as tentative first steps, they are nonetheless steps in the right direction.

Action at the national level has been long overdue and support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, is borne from decades of work at the local level. The historical absence of a broader national agenda has spurred cities and states to act on their own, and local authorities are continuing to make significant, innovative strides forward. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, New York, Utility Business Models| Read 3 Responses
  • Director, New York Clean Energy
    Rory Christian is EDF's Director of Clean Energy Initiatives for the New York region, where he focuses on energy and clean air. Rory currently leads EDF’s work scoping smart grid development in New York City and other high density urban settings, developing opportunities for financing energy projects and the NYC clean heat campaign.

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    EDF Energy Exchange - Accelerating the clean energy revolution

    EDF's energy experts discuss how to accelerate the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy economy.

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