By: Paul Fenn, Founder and President of Local Power Inc.
New York has embarked on a major energy reform that will change the way electricity is produced, distributed, and priced in the state. The effort, called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has the potential to scale up the use of local renewable energy resources and widely deploy energy efficiency technologies, reduce energy bills, and give customers greater control over their energy use.
New York’s REV effort would change the longstanding utility business model that relies on a one-way, centralized power grid delivering electricity to customers, most of it generated by aging, polluting power plants. Under this model, the environmentally-conscious customer has little say over how her energy is produced. Read More
Every year on Earth Day, people around the world show their appreciation of our planet and pledge their commitment to protecting it. Here in NYC, there are events at every scale – from composting demonstrations to announcements of citywide sustainability plans. Mayor Bill de Blasio took the opportunity to announce his plan for ‘A Strong and Just City’, called OneNYC. Mayor de Blasio was elected on a platform of equality across the city – uniting what he called the ‘two New Yorks’ – and this plan shows his commitment to that vision.
OneNYC builds on the success of former Mayor Bloomberg’s sustainability plan, PlaNYC, but expands the focus to citywide equality. By including issues like education and affordable housing, Mayor de Blasio has reaffirmed his commitment to equity in New York City, while also setting ambitious goals to meet climate change challenges.
Some of the major goals outlined in OneNYC consist of:
- Helping 800,000 New Yorkers move above the poverty line by 2025;
- Zero waste sent to landfills by 2030; and
- An 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
Last month, I attended the Vail Global Energy Forum in Colorado. Billed as a “mini-Davos” of energy (studiously ignoring the Aspen crowd a few hours down the highway), that moniker may have felt aspirational when the conference launched three years ago. But, this year it paid off: momentum for frank dialogue and global innovation is building on the slopes of the Vail Valley.
Here’s my take on how the clean air of the mountains cuts through the hot air of energy debates to illuminate practical, actionable ideas.
Three big ideas drove the conference:
- North American energy independence
Mexico, the United States, and Canada could, together, innovate their way to an energy marketplace that weakens dependence on overseas imports, scales up clean energy solutions, and charts a path to low-carbon prosperity. At times, the discussion was framed by the rise of unconventional oil and gas exploration (yes, “fracking”), collaboration around pipelines (yes, “Keystone”), and whether these could disrupt traditional geopolitical frames. Read More
Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Colorado, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Methane, Natural Gas, Utility Business Models
Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) co-hosted a successful forum on residential time-variant electricity pricing – which allows customers to pay different prices for electricity depending on when it is used – within the context of New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) proceeding.’
Co-hosted with the New York Department of Public Service and New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity, the full-day forum, “On the REV Agenda: The Role of Time-Variant Pricing,” brought together more than 150 regulators, utility executives, academics, and other stakeholders to explore how residential time-variant pricing works, what it can accomplish, and how best to implement it. Below is a recap of some of the high-level takeaways from the forum.
How time-variant pricing (TVP) works
One of EDF’s objectives has been to improve the efficiency of the electricity industry by pursuing a market-based approach to electricity pricing. In most well-functioning markets, the cost of making a product and its relative scarcity is reflected in the price. For example, a door is more expensive than the wood with which it is made in order to reflect the labor costs involved. Similarly, strawberries are more expensive during the winter because they are less abundant during that time. Customers understand that prices vary with production costs and over time, yet neither of these elements gets reflected in how residential customers currently pay for electricity.
Despite its enormous relevance to the struggle to build a cleaner, greener electric system, New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) proceeding is not fundamentally an environmental one. It is concerned with building a new electric marketplace for a broad range of energy resources, some zero-carbon and some not, which are expected to reduce total costs paid by tomorrow’s customers over the long term compared to what would be expected under a ’business as usual’ scenario.
My last blog post described the new electric industry market structure envisioned by New York regulators in the recent Track 1 order of the REV proceeding. As promised, this week I’m providing a closer look at the environmental implications of the new order.
While reducing carbon emissions is one of the six stated goals of the proceeding, it is not the sole thrust. Interestingly, the order begins a deep dive on what decarbonization means for the electric system and discusses various environmental issues at length, potentially raising their profile in the proceeding. Highlighting the importance of environmental issues is a welcome change, but, to accomplish the goal of emissions reductions, the devil is in the details. Read More
Nearly a year ago, the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) initiated a groundbreaking effort, called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV), to overhaul the longstanding electric utility business model. In the months since starting the REV proceeding, the Commission has sought advice from Department of Public Service staff, industry stakeholders, and environmental non-profits, among others, quietly refining its vision while largely refraining from big pronouncements about the progress of the proceeding.
That changed late last month when the Commission issued its ‘Track 1’ order establishing the ‘vision’ component of the REV proceeding. We are now starting to get a better sense of what sort of future electric marketplace the Commission anticipates and what role utility companies would play in this new marketplace. We can also begin to assess the extent to which this new marketplace will lead to the improved environmental outcomes stated as a goal of this proceeding. Read More