NY Tests and Deploys Clean Energy Innovation

New York is meeting their clean energy goals by using public resources to test and deploy innovative private sector energy savings and generation.

Through REV (Reforming the Energy Vision), New York has encouraged energy markets to present demonstration programs toward a sustainable environment and economic power system.

Distributed System Platform
The Project seeks to develop and test services based on a local, small-scale, but centralized Distributed System Platform that will communicate with network-connected points of control associated with distributed energy resources (“DERs”).
Distributed energy resources are smaller power sources that can be aggregated to provide power necessary to meet regular demand. As the electricity grid continues to modernize, DER such as storage and advanced renewable technologies can help facilitate the transition to a smarter grid.

With REV, the New York Public Service Commission articulated a comprehensive energy strategy consisting on a Regulatory Policy Framework and Implementation Plan in behalf of New York clean energy. Reducing customer's energy bills, ensuring optimal energy choices and reducing carbon emissions are some of the targets. The initiative is for utilities to provide a distributed system platform (DSP) and consequently work together with energy innovators to find better and effective ways to use distributed energy resources (DER). This is achieved through demonstration projects presented by utilities and partners.

Change means progress but it comes with concerns. The question is, how do utilities make revenue if providing and producing energy to the city is reduced and changed as is expected. It is known that utility companies have the obligation to deliver reliable and resilient energy to customers at reasonable rates. Therefore, the Commission requires, through the different demonstration projects, that New York’s electric utilities generate value for customers and the systems, while creating revenues through distributed energy projects.

Under the title of New York REV Future 2016 – the annual conference held on September – brought together key stakeholders, technology providers, utilities and state policy makers to show, learn and find new ways for improvement by highlighting the successes of projects for a cleaner, resilient and affordable energy.

Some of these REV Demonstration Projects discussed were:

Customer Programs and Pricing Signals

Demand Reduction Demonstration Project in Clifton Park: Encouraging price-responsive consumer behavior

This demonstration project is driven by National Grid and other clean energy providers with the purpose of understanding customers’ behavior. Since not all communities share the same necessities or have the same socioeconomic structure, the project first concentrated on energy customer's possible responses. The goal is to educate customers about their energy consumption in a timely manner. Rate options are a necessary tool for consumers to understand and consequently lower their total energy bills. TOU rates (Time of Use) is a tool that shows the impact of energy consumption in high peak hours, when the demand is high and so are prices. Participants are rewarded if they are able to reduce their usage during peak hours. By being aware of the impact of their energy usage, consumers demonstrated to shift energy consumption. Thus, the program encourages consumers to a price-responsive behavior.  This type of information and programs is a great benefit to the city.

Neighborhood Solar Projects: Fruit Belt Neighborhood Solar Partnership - Buffalo NY: Bringing solar to low-to moderate income communities

With the purpose of helping low-to moderate-income customers to access clean energy, National Grid implemented a solar initiative. The implementation plan consisted on physically installing 100 rooftops solar photovoltaic (PV) in a local neighborhood. National Grid’s target is to demonstrate that not low-to moderate income customers can access clean energy, save money, and have an efficient overall electricity system. Some of the projects goals are to reduce electricity bills, lower GHG emissions, explore grid efficiency and engage residential communities as a whole.

Microgrids for Resiliency: Resiliency Demonstration in Potsdam

Focusing on past outcomes that came from severe weather events, National Grid focused on improving community resilience by the implementation and usage of microgrids. A microgrid is a small-scale power grid consisting of distributed energy sources that works through a combination of renewable energy, storage, generators and data management. These can either operate independently or in conjunction with the main grid.

In partnership with local customers and distribute energy resources providers, Microgrids are intended to aid communities in case of emergencies (when power outages occur); cut costs; and be energy independent by using renewable resources like solar panels and/or wind.

Online Project/Service Marketplaces

Community Energy Coordination

With the objective of reducing community’s energy consumption and increasing clean-renewable energy usage, Iberdrola, an international company based in Spain, in partnership with New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) and municipal leaders joined this demonstration project. The project shows the value of community-level market coordination and the acquiring of energy product services. What this means is that several providers get together to share the costs of customer invoicing as well as communication, distributed energy sources such as solar, and other services. The adoption of these services for the community helps to reduce the costs of acquiring and managing customers for third parties, which benefits local community energy goals.

Energy Marketplace

Iberdrola USA (merged with UIL Holdings Corporation to form AVANGRID, Inc.) on behalf of Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation (RG&E) proposed this demonstration project where RG&E is engaged in an on-line marketplace targeting messaging platform. This platform enables customers to browse, purchase, and give feedback about DER products and providers.  The intention is to enable connections between DER providers and customers by engaging customers through target messaging and customer segmentation. This will reduce costs of direct utility investment and create new business models for RG&E through a marketplace that creates revenues to customers and DER providers.

Demonstration projects have not only opened the door for new business models and helped all type of communities, but also shown how New York can better use its renewable resources. These type of projects have changed the way of how New York produces energy through many innovative projects. So, why cannot they be an example for future energy improvements around the country? It can be said that the success of this initiative will be transforming the energy vision around the country. Producing cleaner energy and having a city and a country with lower greenhouse gas emissions levels is needed for this and future generations. Through all the actual and future demonstration projects the idea is to make new and better approaches to energy with the community, municipalities, and utility companies in conjunction. The idea is to enhance customer knowledge for future choices, create energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, show system reliability and resiliency, and lower energy bills.