The 2018 New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) Summit, hosted by EUCI at National Grid’s Brooklyn headquarters last week, brought together leading industry experts and state policy makers to discuss the status and future of REV. Topics discussed included progress made toward REV goals, the technical and economic details of REV related pilot projects, and how New York’s energy ecosystem and regulatory environment might evolve in the immediate-term. The summit featured speakers and panelists from across the industry and country, including utility executives, third-party energy services and distributed energy resource providers, policy analysts, electric engineers, legal experts, and consultants.
REV Demonstration Projects Deliver Success
Regulators and industry representatives came together to celebrate many of the success stories related to REV. New York has enjoyed greenhouse gas emissions reductions, additions of distributed energy resources (DER), and the implementation of demonstration projects through REV. Many exemplar REV demonstration projects were highlighted at the summit. National Grid highlighted its ground source heat pump system for customers outside of natural gas distribution areas on Long Island, and a neighborhood solar project in Buffalo―a rooftop solar model where the utility owns the system and provides the customer with monthly credit―in a low-to-middle income community. New York Power Authority discussed its LED streetlight conversion program that successfully provided multiple cities with thousands of LED streetlights, saving them millions of dollars. Each of these projects prove that when faced with the task of developing and implementing innovative energy solutions, utilities continue to deliver value to customers, and in support of public policy goals.
Data & DER Drive the Future of REV
The second theme of the summit was the future of REV. Speakers and panelists shared their thoughts on how REV will shape the energy landscape of the future. Key points of discussion included how energy markets would evolve to better integrate DER and how data collection and usage can facilitate change. Increased need for, and reliance on digital technologies and advanced analytics are propelling the industry toward increased customer satisfaction, reduced operating costs, and improved grid reliability.
As DER integration increases, markets, and policy must adapt to allow for reliable, affordable grid operation. Part of this growth can come from operating efficiency increases, such as improving interconnection testing and permitting, while more radical change will also occur. One such solution discussed at the summit is the use of performance-based metrics or Earning Adjustment Mechanisms (EAM). Utilities could use these metrics to incentivize (rather than mandate) investment in DER and DER Management Systems (DERMS) by recovering costs in customer rates.
National Grid has already included EAMs in its Niagara Mohawk rate case in upstate New York, and is soliciting feedback on the proposal. With an ever-increasing amount of DER on the grid, utilities and operators will be forced to deal with an increasingly complex network; and many utilities have the tools in-place to do so.
Data collection and usage is set to play a large role in utility operations moving forward. With an internet-of-things constantly increasing in size and scope, utilities can access more data on customer usage than ever before. Collecting and analyzing this data will allow utilities to operate more efficiently and make informed decisions, resulting in both increased innovation capabilities and customer savings.
The summit served as a reminder of how regulators and industry representatives can come together to share expertise, allowing for a greater shared understanding of challenges facing the energy industry. New York is a national leader in innovative energy policy, and will continue to challenge industry leaders to move forward collaboratively in a clean, affordable, and resilient manner.