REV and the State of Opportunity

Gita Subramony for Zondits, October 15, 2015. Image credit: caruba took a high level look at the importance and complexity of the REV initiative in New York State. New York’s examination of how power is bought, sold, distributed, and used represents an attempt at aligning electric utilities with cutting-edge technology and the drive towards climate change mitigation. Under the old model, it was in a utility’s best interest for customers to use more power, and solar panels, co-generation, battery storage, and energy efficient equipment put utility profits in danger. However, technologies like these will be essential for maintaining energy security and for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a result, the Cuomo administration has introduced a program called Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) in order to better align clean-energy and utility goals. The main issues that REV seeks to tackle include the extent of utilities’ natural monopoly and how to align new technologies and distributed generation with utility profits.

Vox’s analysis suggests that states around the country are looking to New York as an example of how these reforms might play out. If New York succeeds, the process could be replicated across other markets, helping the country as a whole reduce GHG emissions.

New York’s revolutionary plan to remake its power utilities

Vox, October 5, 2015

Utilities aren’t evil. They are doing exactly what they are designed to do. The problem is the design. Right now, utilities operate in a regulatory environment that puts them intrinsically at odds with some of the coolest, most promising stuff happening in energy today: rooftop solar, energy storage in electric vehicles and household batteries, smart home energy management tech like the Nest thermostat, and various new ways of aggregating and managing demand.

These new technologies enable people to use less utility power. But utilities want people to use more utility power. So they fight the new technology. Until that fundamental conflict is resolved, utilities will be an impediment rather than a partner in the transition to a cleaner, smarter electricity grid.

States are beginning to understand this, and several are taking steps to reform how their utilities work. None, however, are going at it with the speed and gusto of New York.

Under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York is undertaking an astonishingly comprehensive and ambitious effort to remake its energy systems and reduce its carbon emissions. One part of that broader effort is a program known as Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), which charges the state’s public service commission (PSC) with developing a new vision for utilities and implementing it in the next few years. The goal is to realign the incentives facing utilities so that they can profit from, and benefit from accelerating, the spread of new clean, distributed energy technologies.

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