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NY BEST: New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision could be ‘valuable lesson’ for rest of world

New York's meatpacking district in darkness following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The state is hoping that in addition to help the state go greener and save money on infrastructure upgrades, NY REV can add resilience to the network. Image: flickr user: Dan Nguyen
A programme to re-configure New York’s energy networks, including a comprehensive evaluation of energy storage, could provide “valuable lessons” for other parts of the world, according to the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology consortium (NY BEST).

New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) was launched by state governor Andrew Cuomo in April 2014 and is currently ongoing. It aims to enable the state to move towards basing its energy networks on greater levels of distributed generation and fostering a competitive marketplace where possible.

Supporting state targets to reach a proportion of 60% renewables in New York’s energy mix by 2030, provide better grid resiliency and save money on expensive infrastructure upgrades, to name just three of its motivations, NY BEST has been among the participants in several of the working groups feeding in information and insights to the redesign process. NY BEST focuses both on technology, including research, and on advocating for market-enabling measures.

“We’re trying to use the grid much more efficiently,” said NY BEST’s William Acker in a recent interview with PV Tech Storage.

“…so our in-state goal is not to have every house isolated, with generators and solar panels and batteries, our goal here is that all houses and businesses can all be making power, trading power, moving power, utilising the grid to make everything much, much, more efficient.”

So far, it has been determined that a key tenet of this will be the creation of distributed service platform providers (DSPPs), where utilities will effectively host mini-marketplaces for energy to and from distributed energy resources. Over the next two months until September, the REV programme is in the hands of the Market Design and Platform Technology Group, convened by groups including utility Con Edison and Siemens Technology. This will focus on tariff design, to cover every aspect of the electricity market, including which agencies should be allowed to own energy storage assets and how to fairly value those assets for the network benefits they provide.

“The implementation of REV goes into next year, but there are steps that are already happening, with the demand response plans for utilities, with what are called demo projects that are starring to feed business models,” Acker said.

“So there’s a lot going on and into next year these [things] rules will hopefully get codified and we actually have distributed system platform providers that are encouraging making markets for distributed energy resources at the edge of the grid.”

'A very effective model'

New York is not alone among US states drastically revising its approach to energy to accommodate greater levels of distributed generation. California’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) recently put out their own distributed resources plans, after being instructed to do so by regulator the Public Utilities’ Commission (PUC).  

It appears that in a move to a sustainable future for distributed resources including renewable energy and storage, market design is considered to be almost as crucial, if not as crucial, as technology.

“…it's important to us that as as these [PFCS] are rolled out there are mechanisms put in place to provide the right financial structure for energy storage to provide those services that are going to be needed. That’s a key aspect of what we’ve been working on as REV’s been rolled out, how you move from where we are today to a full transactional marketplace in a way that puts us in a position to have that proportion of renewables we’re trying to have,” Acker said.

As other regions join California and New York in taking a good look at their electricity networks, including the role storage can play, the REV programme could have a bearing on developments elsewhere. The European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE), recently applauded the intention of the European Commission to "create a competitive market place
and a level playing field, which will make it, amongst others [sic], fit for energy storage". While at a far earlier stage in the process than New York REV - the EC has so far only proposed to redesign its energy market, while NY REV is already underway - the motives for doing so are similar, involving greater integration of renewables, deferring investment on infrastructure and increasing network flexibility.

“The change of the electricity industry to focus much more heavily on the edge of the grid, on distributed energy resources (DERs) and their control and market facilities is very, very, important for all electricity industries in the world and there are a number of different models for how to do that," said William Acker on what the rest of the world could learn from REV.

“We believe REV is using a very effective model [for focusing on the grid edge and DERs] and the business model that is being created around this is something that could be very valuable for other areas of the world to look at.”

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