Models for the Future Utility: Examining New York State’s Distributed System Platform Provider Vision

The New York Public Service Commission’s Reforming Energy Vision (REV) is among the most forward-looking electric utility transformation initiatives in North America, if not globally. In short, the plan has the potential to fundamentally shift utility regulation to meet the needs of a more distributed, consumer-focused energy system that the future is quickly ushering in with the advent of distributed generation, storage, electric vehicles, smart homes and a plethora of next-generation energy technologies. The bedrock of the initiative is the definition and formation of Distributed System Platform Providers (DSPPs). This session will explore the definition of a DSPP and how it differs from today’s utility model, explain the values and incentives for all parties involved, outline new products and services that can be supported, put forth the challenges surrounding DER penetration, and investigate how DSPPs interact with other energy markets.

Steve Propper – Director, Grid Edge at GTM Research

Kate Burson – Chief of Staff to the Chairman of Energy and Finance at the Office of the Governor of New York
Gerry Docherty – CEO at Smarter Grid Solutions
Charles Freni – Senior Vice President, Customer Services at Central Hudson Gas & Electric

This event originally aired on March 11, 2015

Grid Edge Analytics: Advances in Big Data, Intelligent Software and Analytics Behind the Meter

The next generation of behind-the-meter analytics goes well beyond providing consumers with detailed data on their energy use. Utilities are now able to take advantage of customer segmentation and profiling information to increase the effectiveness of demand response and energy efficiency programs. By leveraging intelligent software, utilities also gain better visibility into their customers’ responses to price signals, leading to optimized rate structures.

The early energy management market was a battle of the best-in-class hardware (e.g., displays, sensors, and thermostats), placing a strong emphasis on smart meters as an enabling technology. More recently there has been an increase in strategic partnerships. Blue-chip companies from the automation, security, solar, and telecom industries have taken notice and begun to gain market share with new solutions. This panel will examine the changing data analytics landscape behind-the-meter and discuss how companies have shifted their focus toward energy management.

Omar Saadeh – Senior Analyst at GTM Research

Christopher Cavanagh – Principal Program Manager at National Grid
Nicholas Payton – Associate Director of Product Marketing and Strategy at Opower
Jun Shimada – Founder / CEO at ThinkEco

This event was originally recorded on November 5, 2014

The Utility Business Model: Evolution or Revolution?

As residential consumers take increasingly active stances toward energy management and generation, fundamental assumptions of the electric utility model are being challenged. Power providers counting on load growth and guaranteed rates of return for consistent financial returns now face disruption from the rapid expansion of residential solar, storage, and new financial innovations. GTM Research has shown that distributed PV nearly halved electricity demand growth in California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey in 2013. In another few years, New York may face a similar situation.

Lost profits and the threat to shareholder value and pensions are serious concerns, but are only the tip of the iceberg. Tying utility revenue to kilowatt-hours sold has resulted in an oversized power grid and lagging incentives for demand response, energy efficiency, and distributed generation. NRG CEO David Crane has suggested a scenario in which “the grid is, at best, an antiquated backup system to a different way of buying electricity.”

Several state regulators have taken steps toward remaking the utility business model to address these issues. New York policymakers, at the forefront of these efforts, recently launched an overhaul of electricity regulation in the state with the goal of increasing efficiency, resource diversity, and resiliency. This panel will examine emerging challenges and opportunities as utilities in NY and around the country evolve to meet the needs of a next-generation power system, develop services that offer their customers more choice, and deliver increased value to their shareholders.

This event was originally recorded on September 22, 2014

The Age of Intelligent Storage: Distributed Systems, Smart Software and Control Systems

Energy storage is widely regarded as the key to integrating the growing penetration of renewable resources at the grid edge. Through optimized intelligent infrastructure and controls surrounding the battery, storage solutions are becoming exceedingly able to economically and reliably address the challenges associated with the expansion of our modern power system.

GTM Research forecasts that distributed commercial storage capacity in the U.S. will reach 100 MW this year and surpass 700 MW by 2020. With initiatives such as California’s Self Generation Incentive Program offering subsidized storage systems based on energy capacity, coupled with increasingly attractive rooftop solar options, residential-scale deployments are similarly expected to support a larger growth going forward.

In parallel to the various software packages currently under development, a multitude of different intelligent control and communication approaches are also being explored to better enhance the performance of a dispersed fleet of storage devices. This panel will bring to light these efforts, their impact on modernizing grid infrastructure, and their relevance to industry stakeholders.

This event originally aired on May 14, 2014.

Executive Director at NY BEST, Bill Acker introduces the concept of intelligent storage and its importance. 

The panel discusses implications of the PSC's initiative REV or Reforming Energy Vision. 

Andrew Reid, Senior Engineer at ConEd talks about the idea of grid defection. 

Ted Wiley, Vice President of Product and Corporate Strategy at Aquion talks to University students about solving some of society's greatest problems.

The Other Debt Ceiling: Using Finance to Balance the Environmental Budget

As weather events become more extreme, water shortages threaten, and human sprawl leads to biodiversity loss, there is a new focus on the global economic impact of environmental degradation. Studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Harvard School of Public Health, and others assert that our active growth and inactive conservation efforts have left us with a trillion-dollar bill. So how do we pay down this debt? In recent years, innovators in policy and finance have started to answer that question by creatively using the tools of debt, capital, and ownership to clean up our lands, preserve our national treasures, and accelerate clean energy adoption. For this event, we looked at both sides of environmental debt. We discussed the policies and ideologies that led us to this level of environmental debt, and then debated what financial and regulatory solutions exist to enrich both the environment and the economy.

Originally recorded on November 20, 2013

Sandy and the Grid: One Year Later

The strength of Superstorm Sandy was unprecedented, leaving the 2.2 million people in New York State without power and public transit shut down for weeks. The Hurricane Sandy Task Force estimated economic losses for the region are estimated at 65 billion dollars. Since the storm, there has been a call for analysis and a cry for future resiliency, including a smarter power grid and and increased backup power supplies. Reports have laid out plans to begin climate adaptation and protect our city from future storms. For this next event, we called on changemakers and policy wonks and asked “what’s next?” in New York City’s resiliency plan, and how will energy and technology innovation play a role? Will we see a rise in islanded DG technology? Will a call for resiliency equal a call for a smarter grid?

Originally recorded on November 20, 2013.