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Improving Energy Policy in New York State

Over the last nine months, the New York State Energy Office, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Public Service Commission (PSC) have announced a number of groundbreaking efforts to improve energy policy in New York State. As these efforts have developed, it has become evident that there are significant opportunities to shape the energy efficiency industry for years to come. Efficiency First New York (EF-NY) has been closely monitoring these efforts and has been actively participating in all of the major discussions, submitting written comments and appearing in-person to advocate on behalf of its' membership.

The first opportunity that EF-NY identified came in the form of a petition from the staff of the NYS Public Service Commission, addressed to the Commission officers.  The petition outlined a number of recommended changes to the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), the regulations that direct a significant portion of the incentives and program funding for energy efficiency programs in NY.  Efficiency First NY collected feedback from its membership and drafted written comments to the Public Service Commission. Several weeks after the comment period, the PSC ruled in favor of all the recommended changes to EEPS that EF-NY supported, and even referenced some of EF-NY's comments in their ruling. Although many of the components will require additional planning and deliberation, the PSC ruled in favor of several key changes that will improve the delivery of energy efficiency programs in NY, including replacing measure level TRC, fuel neutrality and increased data sharing protocols. These rulings from the PSC have sparked additional proceedings to carry out their orders, and EF-NY has continued to participate and provide feedback in the discussions.

Another major effort that Efficiency First NY participated in was providing comments/feedback to the New York State Energy Plan (SEP). Unlike past years, drafting the 2014 NY SEP was a substantial state-wide effort that invited participation from a wide range of stakeholders to help lay out the future of energy policy in New York State. In addition to attending and providing testimony at public hearings, EF-NY collaborated with eight other energy efficiency organizations and acted as the lead applicant for written comments that were submitted to the State Energy Plan team at NYSERDA. Building on the success of the collaboration with other energy efficiency organizations, EF-NY has continued to work with the group that has coined itself the New York State Energy Efficiency Coalition. The coalition has been growing in size and influence, and seeks to provide a unified energy efficiency industry perspective during policy discussions.

There are several ongoing NYS Public Service Commission proceedings that Efficiency First New York has been participating in, which could represent the most significant opportunities for energy efficiency in the past 20 years. The two major proceedings are Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) and Clean Energy Fund (CEF). The REV proceeding seeks to change/create new energy markets in NY, and has long-term, wide-reaching implications for all parts of the energy sector, with major changes to the roles of utilities, NYSERDA and the PSC. Efficiency First New York has been working to develop a proposal that outlines the creation an energy efficiency marketplace that values energy efficiency as a resource, and incorporates the ideas laid out in REV. The ongoing Clean Energy Fund proceeding is particularly important to EF-NY, as it represents the multi-year transition plan from the current market structure to the market defined by the REV proceeding. With both of these proceedings, Efficiency First NY has teamed up with the NYS Energy Efficiency Coalition to interpret, represent and comment on behalf of its membership.

The last significant effort that EF-NY has been actively engaged in originated from NYSERDA, the state organization that administers the state-wide energy efficiency incentive/financing programs. This 60 day (still ongoing) effort is known as "Early Wins" and it's objective is to "make it possible for 95% of customers to move from deciding to use our program to an approved contract offer (including approved financing and incentives) within one week."  If the objective is accomplished, it would represent a significant improvement in program workflow and processing time. Numerous members of Efficiency First New York have provided feedback to NYSERDA's "Early Wins" teams, giving them an on-the-ground perspective from contractors. EF-NY believes that the "Early Wins" effort could stimulate rapid change in NYSERDA's HPwES program, and provide much needed relief to energy efficiency contractors.

This year has brought exciting opportunities in the New York State energy efficiency industry, and Efficiency First New York is proud to be representing its membership during these discussions.

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