New York State & Distributed Energy – The Five Year Plan

New York State has long been at work in building their platform for building energy markets through their discussions on “Reforming the Energy Vision”.  Finally, we are seeing the state’s utilities take action and provide some initial blueprints of how they plan to make the transition to distributed energy platform providers.

Distributed energy, in theory, is really as simple as it sounds. Investors and utilities will build small-scale energy distribution sites located near consumers. These sites are made up of different types of energy sources, with a recent trend of pushing for more renewable energy sources and energy storage devices. The perks of distributed energy far outweigh the costs, as they serve to address problems we see not only throughout the state and the country. By switching energy sources over to a distributed energy grid, there will be less stress on the current streamlined grid, leading to lower emissions, reduced bottlenecks, and the stronger ability to monitor and control the cost of energy.

State utilities released their respective five-year plans on the transition to distributed energy, contributing to Governor Cuomo’s plan to reduce our impact and remove carbon emissions from the energy sector. The biggest of these is ConEdison’s plan, which focuses on addressing rapid growth throughout Queens & Brooklyn and avoids making upgrades to the grid that could cost upwards of $1 billion to rate-payers by integrating smaller scale, clean energy projects that would be set out at $200 million intervals.

This is not without shortcomings. GreenTechMedia addresses a few key issues that are integral in the proper implementation of distributed energy. These include: non-wire alternatives, which would convert electrical wires as the main pathway to an increased number of substations and transformers throughout the areas serviced; smart meters, increasing the range and scope of the metering infrastructure providing more transparency throughout the distribution system, optimizing efficiency; and advanced distribution management systems, which mostly will be installed upstate – will not just recommended, but a requirement to properly monitor distribution systems. These issues are anticipated to be resolved upon the November 1st release of their joint “Distributed System Implementation Plan”.

Simultaneously with this recent release for the New York utilities, New York Green Bank issued a statement informing the public they wish to increase their portfolio by approximately two-thirds over the next year, with a focus on renewable or clean energy. This would account for approximately $200 million, which would help keep energy rates down, and offset the burden for completing these projects.