Energy Exchange

Lessons learned from New York REV: A roadmap to reduce emissions through utility reform

The aftermath of extreme weather events calls for action. Recently, devastating hurricanes, wildfires in California, and the “bomb cyclone” in the northeast have reminded us of our vulnerability to climate change and the strength it takes to rebuild our communities. Months after the effects of Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico remains without power – a painful reminder of the extent to which we rely on electricity, and the work required to maintain the electric grid.

Ensuring reliability of the electric system is integral to protecting our cities and states in the future. After restoring power to millions of New Yorkers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Governor Cuomo planted the seeds of overhauling the state’s electric system, which lead to the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, an effort to build a cleaner, more reliable, and affordable grid. REV looks to create effective market mechanisms that lead to long-lasting solutions for utilities, customers, and a carbon-free environment.

Part of achieving this vision is decarbonization, or eliminating the use of dirty fossil fuels, which emit more than two-thirds of the United States’ carbon pollution. Environmental Defense Fund’s new whitepaper, “Driving Environmental Outcomes through Utility Reform: Lessons from New York’s REV,” looks at how electric utility reform, specifically New York’s REV, can accelerate decarbonization. The paper outlines fundamental criteria for electric utilities’ modernization efforts to bring about environmental benefits, mainly: building smart platforms to deploy clean energy resources cost-effectively, aligning utility earnings with environmental outcomes, and engaging customers as market participants. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, New York, Utility Business Models / Read 2 Responses

Goodbye, internal combustion! Electric vehicles are rolling in

By Rory Christian and Larissa Koehler

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t make much noise on the road, but they’re generating a lot of buzz about the future of this technology and what it means for business and the environment.

Cars, buses, and trucks are the second biggest source of pollution in the U.S. after electricity production. They are responsible for over 26 percent of emissions that adversely affect the health and well-being of the population, and put communities located close to highways and other major thoroughfares at risk. These communities, typically low-income, are often plagued by elevated asthma rates and other pollution-induced health conditions.

When thinking about ways to reduce pollution, EVs can make a world of difference. And, when charged using renewable energy sources, they produce no emissions and can be much cheaper to operate than traditional, internal combustion vehicles. As such, let’s take a look at the global EV market and impacts in the U.S. on the electric grid in two environmentally progressive states ‒ New York and California. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, General / Read 3 Responses

Better buildings pave the way for energy independence

By Monica Kanojia, Consultant, U.S. Department of Energy

American cities are home to nearly 63 percent of energy use, despite only accounting for 3.5 percent of land area.  It is estimated that these cities and their buildings will account for 87 percent of domestic energy consumption by 2030.

Since its inception in late 2016, 43 cities and counties have joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Communities Alliance (BCA), a first-of-its-kind partnership between DOE experts and leaders from the public and private sectors. Through BCA, cities and counties have access to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable transportation solutions that support mutual goals of creating cleaner, smarter, and more prosperous communities.

Given increasing energy needs, aging infrastructure, and new challenges to ensure clean air and water, local government leaders are developing and implementing strategic solutions to enhance future livability.

BCA now represents more than 40 million Americans in over 20 states, which reflects the importance of energy innovation at the local level. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, New York / Read 1 Response

How ‘Energy Week’ could learn from state clean energy leaders

President Trump’s administration dubbed last week “Energy Week,” including a theme of “energy dominance.” Instead of exploring America’s clean energy potential, we’re waiting for the July release of a report by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) examining whether the early retirement of power plants and impact on grid reliability can be blamed on requiring coal plants to reduce pollution while incentivizing clean energy sources. Taken together, and with the fact that the president pulled the country out of the Paris Agreement, America’s energy agenda gives me pause and cause to worry.

We don’t yet know what the DOE report is going to say, but judging from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s past stance on energy and his latest statements on the matter, it could suggest that the coal industry that has long-been economically uncompetitive due to oversupplied, cheap natural gas, could be propped-up to spew toxic emissions into the future.

Here is the reality: climate change is not a political issue; it is the single greatest threat we face as a generation. Clean energy is our best option to prevent the environmental situation from getting worse because it is at the core of every climate issue. Fortunately, Americans agree on this, and know something must be done. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New York, Utility Business Models / Read 2 Responses

Biting the Biggest Apple: New York’s New Plan to Reward Distributed Energy Resources

How do we compensate those who add clean electricity to our shared power grid? This fundamental question has affected the rate at which the U.S. has adopted, deployed, and put into use clean, distributed energy resources such as energy efficiency, batteries, electric vehicles, and rooftop and community solar.

At the core of our new distributed energy electricity system are resources that work better during specific times and weather conditions, and thereby have more value at some moments than others. So, it’s crucial to take time and location into account to properly identify the value of these clean energy resources and how they should be fairly compensated. Solving for price can spur much needed investment in renewable resources and lower the cost of clean energy development, while reducing emissions.

Last week, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) brought us a step closer to figuring how to fairly compensate distributed energy by issuing a long-awaited order to establish an interim pricing structure that encourages the evolution of distributed energy markets and better aligns with Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the state’s initiative to build a cleaner, more efficient, and customer-centric electric system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Community Solar, Electricity Pricing, New York, Social Cost of Carbon, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

States’ Environmental Commitments Are Key to Nation’s Clean Energy Future

ny-clean-lights“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 »

Also posted in Clean Energy, New York / Comments are closed