By: Elizabeth B. Stein, Attorney and Adam Peltz, Attorney
Source: Iwan Baan
In Tuesday’s blog post, we discussed the recently concluded Con Edison rate case, its context, and its significance in advancing clean energy and grid resilience in New York. Today, we take a closer look at the final Order posted last Friday by the New York State Public Service Commission (the Commission) to uncover some of the more encouraging outcomes buried in this 300+ page document:
- Con Edison agreed to various measures that allow for more distributed generation, i.e. on-site power generation, such as combined heat and power, rather than relying solely on power generation and distribution from the traditional, centralized grid. For example, Con Edison agreed to pay for some fault current mitigation, which enables distributed generation to be connected to portions of Con Edison’s grid where it would otherwise be prohibited, and agreed to develop an implementation plan for a microgrid pilot. Additionally, Con Edison agreed to treat customer-sited projects, including distributed generation, as integral parts of its system by considering them in its 24-month planning horizon. Because some distributed generation can operate in an ‘islanded’ mode, or separate from the main grid, and can thus continue operating in a power outage, distributed generation can play a critical role in improving resilience. Read More
By: Elizabeth B. Stein, Attorney and Adam Peltz, Attorney
Source: Iwan Baan
The New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) took a historic step late last week, unanimously approving an Order that requires Con Edison to implement state-of-the-art measures to plan for and protect its electric, gas, and steam systems from the effects of climate change. This announcement regarding the future of New York State’s largest utility comes as a welcome coda to local storm recovery and resiliency efforts that have been in the works for some time now.
On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy clobbered the coastline of New York City. Homes were swept away or badly damaged as corrosive salt water flooded basements, while millions lost power. In one of the enduring images of the storm, an exploding transformer at East 14th Street caused the “city that never sleeps” to go dark below 40th Street and stay that way for the better part of a week. Read More
By: Abbey Brown
Recently, New Yorkers bid farewell to our Mayor of twelve years, Mike Bloomberg. Under Bloomberg’s prevue, EDF helped catalyze the NYC Clean Heat program – which led to the cleanest air the City has seen in the last fifty years. Through NYC Clean Heat’s efforts over the past few years to phase out the use of highly-polluting No. 6 heating oil in more than 3,000 buildings across NYC, sulfur pollution fell by more than two-thirds while soot pollution dropped by a quarter.
NYC Clean Heat has made great strides in helping buildings become cleaner and more efficient, but there is still much work to be done. EDF is wasting no time in capitalizing on the effective public-private partnership we helped assemble of community and union leaders, policymakers and leaders in the utility, real estate and finance sectors to bring more environmental and public health gains to the City. Our next target: All that energy wasted by old and inefficient buildings.
Nearly 40% of U.S. energy is consumed by residential and commercial buildings, which are responsible for more than a third of our country’s greenhouse gases. The building sector presents one of the greatest untapped opportunities for major gains in energy savings and pollution reductions over the next several years. Read More
In the last week of December, the New York Public Service Commission issued an Order that signals big changes coming soon to New York’s electric utility landscape. The Commission made it clear that it wants clean energy resources, including on-site, distributed power generation (such as solar PV), energy efficiency and energy load management strategies, to play a central role in how the energy system brings value to customers. In contrast to the peripheral role clean energy resources have played in the past, the Commission is now ready to make them a priority, signaling a willingness to transform the regulatory landscape.
The Order was one of a trilogy arising from three intertwined proceedings, all of which were considered by the Commission on December 19, 2013. One of those three – perhaps the most concrete and immediate – was a proceeding concerning the initial capitalization of New York’s Green Bank, a new entity that aims to advance clean energy funding in New York State. That proceeding addresses a proposal to leverage ratepayer funds and private investment to systematically address market barriers to private financing of distributed generation, energy efficiency and demand management projects, with an ultimate goal of building a clean energy marketplace that can stand on its own. The other related proceedings concerned two New York State programs that draw on the same funding sources that are now being made available for the initial capitalization of the Green Bank: New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS).
This Order concerns various proposals to improve and streamline the EEPS programs. Some of these changes are effective immediately, such as the elimination of duplicative reporting requirements. Other, more substantive program modifications – such as the changes to the structure of EEPS and other clean energy programs, as well as the responsibilities of various entities (including the Commission’s Staff, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the utilities themselves) – are to be addressed through a new “E2 working group,” which is to be formed by February 1, 2014. This new working group is tasked with “sharing and developing concepts for an optimized E2 portfolio that supports a scale-up of energy efficiency and overall system efficiency,” for a program launch by the end of 2015. Read More
Since 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
One of the worst hit states by last year’s Superstorm Sandy, New York is moving aggressively to avert future climate-related weather events. Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a Green Bank last week, giving the state a timely and much-needed Christmas gift.
The move shows the state’s strong commitment to the acceleration of a clean, low-carbon energy economy. New York joins the ranks of several other states, including Connecticut and Hawaii, in addressing a key issue holding clean energy in America back, namely financing. The Green Bank, which has $210 million in initial funding originating from existing ratepayer and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, targets market barriers to private financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Working with private sector financial institutions, the Green Bank will offer financial products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling to support securitization (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace) and help build secondary markets. These products have long-proven successful in stimulating market developments and creating investment-quality, asset-backed securities that can be bought and traded. Read More
By now you might have heard the story. Andy Darrell and his fellow colleagues in EDF’s New York office were staring out the window of their office near Gramercy Park several years ago when they noticed thick plumes of black smoke rising from a nearby building. As New York regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund and a member of outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC Sustainability Advisory Board, it struck Andy that they could actually do something about it. Embarking on a plan that aimed to phase out the City’s dirtiest heating oils, the successful EDF-led NYC Clean Heat campaign was born.
This story officially entered New York City environmental lore when New York Magazine included it in the annual Reasons to Love New York issue as “Reason 19. Because Our Air Is the Cleanest It’s Been in 50 Years.” The recent article describes the public-private coalition of city officials, lawmakers, non-profits and private sector banks that came together for a $100 million financing program that would help building owners make the transition to cleaner fuels. The result: around 3,000 buildings have converted to cleaner fuels, which has been the primary driver in reducing sulfur-dioxide pollution by nearly 70 percent. Read More
New York Governor Cuomo announced last week that the NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership launched last year to spur growth in solar energy, will provide an additional $30 million to stimulate more large solar and biogas projects in the New York City area. The move follows a successful 1.56-MW rooftop solar project in the Bronx.
The expansion of the NY-Sun initiative, which has committed $800 million to solar energy through 2015, provides further example of New York’s leadership role in solar energy in the northeast. New York has some impressive smart power projects under its belt, including the 32-MW solar farm at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, the state’s largest solar installation.
Also in the same area, the Long Island Power Authority’s CLEAN Solar Initiative initiated the state’s first feed-in tariff program, which has plans to purchase up to 50 MW of customer-generated solar energy. Read More
Source: Iwan Baan
By: Rory Christian, Director of New York Smart Power, and Mary Barber, Director of Smart Power Initiatives
It was only a year ago that the most devastating storm the Northeast has ever seen slammed into the region. Hurricane Sandy pummeled the states of New York and New Jersey, destroying homes and businesses and knocking out electricity for millions of families for days, weeks and – in some cases – months.
The unprecedented situation shined a much-needed spotlight on the vulnerability of our century-old energy infrastructure, placing the issue front and center for the region’s state and local leaders, electric utility companies and regulators, particularly as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather events. Utilities in the region have since begun to fortify flood-prone substations among other reinforcements to the power grid, but improvements that are ‘status quo’ are only part of the solution to future challenges.
Ensuring the adoption of technologies and policies that move the U.S. power grid into the 21st century, making it more resilient, flexible and smarter, can simultaneously accomplish today’s goals while preparing for future challenges – some of which may not yet be apparent. EDF is working closely with stakeholders to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to help modernize our aging energy infrastructure, an improvement that is crucial to resiliency, safety and storm recovery. Read More
Last week, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released a Rebuilding Strategy, which aims to rebuild communities affected by Hurricane Sandy in ways that are “better able to withstand future storms and other risks posed by climate change.” From an energy perspective, the main goal of these recommendations is to make the electrical grid smarter and more flexible. This effort would minimize power outages and fuel shortages in the event of similar emergency situations in the future.
The Task Force is led by President Obama and chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. The recommendations put forth in the report were developed with Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, and a number of federal agencies and officials from across New York and New Jersey, representing an unusual opportunity to make changes that will help communities weather future crises.
This key idea – smarter, flexible energy – is central to resilience, safety and quick recovery in a storm, as well as reducing the harmful pollution linked to climate change in the first place. This has been a key theme of EDF’s efforts to help the Northeast region respond to Sandy.
When the power grid went down on most of New York City following Hurricane Sandy, a number of buildings were able to keep their lights on thanks to existing microgrids and on-site, renewable energy sources. The Task Force report lays out a path forward for taking these isolated success stories to scale and making these clean technologies available to everyone.