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New York’s reforming the energy vision and its discontents

Last April, New York launched its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, the biggest, boldest effort yet to adapt a state’s entire energy infrastructure for a future of distributed, resilient, green energy. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave state energy and utility agencies a mandate to overhaul energy regulations and create open data-sharing between utilities and customers, distributed energy services marketplaces for third-party players, and market-based earnings for regulated utilities. 

Some 16 months and dozens of white papers, regulatory filings, and pilot project proposals later, the REV concept is starting to cohere -- at least in silhouette. In February, the New York Public Service Commission issued its first-track orders on how to reform retail electric industry regulations. The commission, led by chairwoman and distributed energy entrepreneur Audrey Zibelman, followed it up in July with a staff white paper (PDF) on ratemaking and business models that can bring the value to distributed energy resources into play. 

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Matt Mooren said: “There’s a critical tension here.  For the policymakers to have a successful outcome here, they need to lean on the utilities to ultimately help them achieve the outcomes.  At the same time, plenty of the ideas coming out of REV could be to some degree in conflict with the utilities’ preferred outcomes.”  

He added: New York policymakers' preferred approach is for utilities to provide the required data to third parties. That's the intended leveler of the playing field that would allow anyone to step up and start participating.  At the same time, the data comes from what is a regulated system, and needs to be in a great degree a system that preserves privacy as it relates to all the customers.”  


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