Revolutionizing the Utility Model in New York

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On the heels of New York’s historic commitment to develop ten times more solar, the state is continuing to think big and bold when it comes to transforming its energy landscape.

This week, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) kicked off a major proceeding called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) that aims to fundamentally rethink how electric utilities do business (details here). The main thrust is to move towards an energy landscape that is increasingly decentralized with consumers playing a more active role in climate-friendly energy decisions.

Rethinking the century-old utility paradigm continues to be a hot topic as growing consumer demand for solar and other distributed energy resources raises fundamental challenges and questions.  And New York regulators want to take these questions head-on and make bold changes to support the energy future that New Yorkers want for their state.  “Business as usual just doesn’t cut it anymore,” suggested Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman, as quoted in a recent New York Times editorial.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  New Yorkers want more clean, renewable energy powering their homes, businesses and communities – as stated by Zibelman, our outdated utility system is simply not designed to support that local, decentralized and clean energy.

We need a new utility model that’s built from the ground up to allow New Yorkers to take action into their own hands and repower their state with sunshine and other clean energy resources.  As this process unfolds before the PSC, we believe state regulators should pay special attention to these three goals as they’re considering what comes next:

  • Build a more inclusive clean energy marketplace that allows and even encourages direct customer participation.
  • Design an energy marketplace that properly recognizes and rewards the very real value of that clean, local power to the state’s grid, public health, environment, and economy.
  • Ensure that existing programs – like NY-Sun, the Renewable Portfolio Standard, Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard and Systems Benefit Program – can continue to fulfill their purpose of successful market transformation in the new energy marketplace.

The PSC will be deliberating the REV over the coming months, and likely years. We are happy to see the agency starting by designing an inclusive and transparent process that will give stakeholders like Vote Solar the opportunity to weigh in along the way. We look forward to participating in this exciting visioning process with our own focus on empowering New Yorkers to go solar.

About Author

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.