Author Archives: Rory Christian

Utility 2.0: NY Utility Regulators Should Consider Change to “Formula for Success”

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Source: Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia Commons

Acquire more customers, sell more electricity. This primary formula has fueled the runaway success of utility companies in America, as well as the rest of the world, for well over a hundred years.

But today, in an era when customers are technologically savvy, price conscious, and environmentally aware, more families are pursuing opportunities that will cut electricity bills and carbon emissions. Options once considered fringe, like installing rooftop solar panels and driving electric cars, are now becoming so mainstream that utilities everywhere are seeing their bottom lines crunched and even fear for their survival. The electricity sector needs a new formula that can account for these changes, while still providing reliable, safe, and affordable electricity for all.

As a result of increased energy efficiency and heavier reliance on local, distributed energy resources, it’s clear our country is moving toward a reality in which less electricity will come from centralized, fossil fuel power plants. At the same time, customers want utilities to continue providing basic electricity services while allowing them to benefit from new energy-efficient solutions and clean technologies in order to waste less electricity and generate our own power.

How will this be possible? A key first step is moving away from the existing regulatory paradigm, which rewards utilities for investing in more power stations and equipment, to a model that rewards utilities for the performance we seek today. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Tagged | 9 Responses, comments now closed

Can New York Beat California in the Clean Energy Race?

Source: Martineric/Flickr

Source: Martineric/Flickr

This post was adapted from an op-ed piece published in Morning Consult.

New York doesn’t have California’s sunshine or Texas’ wind. But it has a vision and willpower that is quickly turning the Empire State into a leader for clean energy solutions.

In the year and a half since the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Cuomo has appointed strong leadership and devoted large-scale investment to develop a resilient energy infrastructure that can withstand the extreme weather events brought on by climate change.

And the state is now digging into a major evaluation of how energy is produced, distributed, and priced – while ramping up funding for renewable energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, New York, Renewable Energy| 1 Response, comments now closed

New York Among the First States to Re-Evaluate its Utility Regulatory Framework

By Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons

By Doc Searls via Wikimedia Commons

For most people, thinking about electricity is confined to two possible events: the arrival of the monthly bill and when the power goes out. The fact that most people don’t think about their electricity outside these two events — and let’s hope the latter is infrequent — is a testament to the robust regulation that has shaped the structure of the electric grid.

But cracks are forming that threaten the very foundation of the existing regulatory compact between utilities and customers. Extreme weather events caused by climate change and evolving consumer trends are testing the viability of the electricity system. The regulations that were crucial for maintaining stability in the 20th century are now forming barriers that make it difficult for utilities to adapt for a future that is fast approaching. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| 3 Responses, comments now closed

White House Meeting on Climate Change Resilience Shows National Commitment

Source: The White House

Source: The White House

Today, the White House is hosting an event highlighting its commitment to boosting resilience among communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. EDF commends the White House for taking steps to make climate change preparedness and resilience a national priority, especially since this has mostly been a regional issue dealt with in areas affected by severe weather events, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

At the event, federal agencies, businesses, researchers, and academia, among others will discuss plans to use data-driven technologies and leverage freely available government data to develop products and services that will help the country better prepare for the effects of climate change. The event will showcase insights gathered from scientific data as well as cutting-edge technologies built by American innovators that are essential to better understanding and managing the risks posed by climate change. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Comments closed

‘Utilities 2.0’: The Future May Be Sooner Than We Think

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Last month, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Utilities 2.0: The Role of Distributed Generation and Demand Response in Evolving Utility Business Models.” The topic may sound esoteric, but to the more than sixty people in attendance, and at least fifty more watching online, the event, which was sponsored by clean energy networking group Agrion, offered insight into how these options will in a not-too-distant future revolutionize the way all of us consume electricity.

The energy industry is abuzz with talk of how distributed generation, which enables consumers to draw power from on-site sources, such as rooftop solar, and demand response, which rewards customers who use less electricity during times of peak demand, are transforming the electric utility industry. A once-in-a-generation paradigm shift is already in motion, and exactly how it will play out is anyone’s guess. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| 2 Responses, comments now closed

Governor Cuomo Announces $40 Million in Post-Sandy Microgrid Competition

Rory Christian PhotoSince Superstorm Sandy stranded thousands without power across the state of New York in 2012, it has become clear that infrastructure upgrades are a necessity for the state. The current, outdated energy system is not up to the challenges of the present day and a changing climate. A year after Sandy, New York has a plan. Last week during his State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo announced the allocation of $40 million to the new Community Grids NYPrize Competition, a program which promises to help New York achieve a more sustainable, resilient energy future.

The competition, aimed at jump-starting at least ten “independent, community-based electric distributions systems” across the state by the end of 2014, is a highlight of a larger $17 billion plan to prepare for future storms like Sandy. Upon full implementation, the NYPrize Competition Community Grids are expected to support approximately 40,000 New York residents.

A “community microgrid” is a new type of energy system that leverages decentralized, local, clean power sources such as solar and wind that are able to operate independently of the centralized electric system. Microgrids are small-scale distribution systems that link multiple distributed energy resources (DERs) into a network that can generate, store and control its own power. Microgrids can operate in tandem with the main power grid during normal conditions, but can disconnect and function as an independent “island” of stable power if the main grid fails. The use of microgrids greatly reduces the number of outages and allows more people to keep their lights on during (and in the wake of) extreme weather events.  Read More »

Posted in Demand Response, New York, Smart Grid| Tagged , , | 1 Response, comments now closed
  • About the author

    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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