New York: A Testbed for Innovation

The Customer-Centric Electricity Grid

Rocky Mountain Institute, June 17, 2015. Image credit: Joe Loong

In 2014, New York State launched Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a regulatory proceeding aiming to rewrite from scratch how the state’s electric grid operates. Alongside traditional assets such as big power plants and transmission lines, for the first time in the nation’s history it will establish a market for customer-sited distributed energy resources (DERs) like rooftop solar, batteries, smart thermostats, and much more. This “distributed system platform” (DSP) places the customer at the center of the grid equation as never before.

At the end of February, state regulators reached a major milestone in that transformation, officially issuing an Order that lays out the regulatory policy framework and implementation plan for REV. Now it’s time to make it a reality, and a second phase, now under way, will determine how.

The state is betting that those distributed energy markets — and the customer-sited technologies behind them — can be a fundamental part of achieving six main goals for the state’s electricity system that include: maintaining affordable electric service for customers (also implying stable and predictable prices), generating local jobs and investment, keeping energy dollars in the state that would otherwise leave to buy fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from New York’s grid, and enhancing the grid’s reliability and resilience.

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