New York State is proposing a revolutionary change to how utilities operate that would move away from the 20th century business model of centralized power stations to a 21st century market-based distributed energy system that would give solar and wind a big boost. Last week, the Public Service Commission (PSC) released a report entitled Reforming the Energy Vision calling for sweeping changes in the regulatory structure of electricity utilities to make it easier for smaller renewable energy producers such as rooftop solar owners to feed into the grid.
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“The 21st century grid is going to have a lot more distributed resources,” Audrey Zibelman, chairman of the PSC, told Bloomberg News. “The scope is comprehensive: solar, energy efficiency, storage. Let’s make it the core to the redesign, not ancillary.”
Making the grid cleaner and more efficient via the distributed generation model dubbed “Utilities 2.0” will help the Empire State meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and Renewable Portfolio Standard. With rising sea levels and more extreme weather from man-made global warming, independent transmitters and microgrids could prevent large-scale power outages such as the ones we saw in lower Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn and other areas during Superstorm Sandy.
The PSC is also calling for a restructuring of rate incentives to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency. The agency is proposing regulations that extend the length of utility rate plans to as much as eight years and connect utility profits with the pursuit of long-term customer value.
“For more than 100 years, the generation and distribution of electricity in New York has been largely unchanged, but today we’re taking a giant step from the status quo and leading the way on energy modernization,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Via Solar One
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