by Adam Procell and Andy Frank.
Reprinted from the Albany Times Union, July 6, 2017.
With the federal government turning its back on commitments to combat climate change and promote clean energy, state leadership is needed more than ever. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stepped up to the plate, working with other states to found the U.S. Climate Alliance, and by adopting strong policies to advance clean energy. Under the direction of Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman, New York has laid out a bold plan known as Reforming the Energy Vision.
Now that the state Senate has confirmed John Rhodes as the new Public Service Commission chairman and Phil Wilcox and Jim Alesi as commissioners, the commission is finally poised to follow through on REV’s plan to scale up energy efficiency markets across the state. But action is needed now to meet the promise of REV.
The idea behind REV is to incorporate clean sources of energy, such as solar, wind and energy efficiency, into our electricity system on an equal footing with traditional energy and infrastructure. But, despite the fact that energy efficiency is often the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions and deliver other grid benefits, New York is only scratching the surface – and even losing ground in delivering this critical resource.
While other states are reducing load by nearly 3 percent every year with new efficiency, New York is stuck at far lower levels. By matching leading states, New York could save up to $3 billion in electricity costs alone from 2020 through 2030, without even counting all of the other efficiency benefits (home comfort, business productivity, etc.). New York boasts as many as 110,000 jobs across the energy efficiency supply chain, and we can grow many more.
In other words, New York can be the Saudi Arabia of energy efficiency, creating more jobs and lowering energy use and bills by adopting energy efficiency as the centerpiece of REV.
With REV, Cuomo envisions a market-based approach, where utilities and developers of energy efficiency are paid for the value delivered (including carbon reductions). It is an exciting vision, but is not yet adopted in any concrete form. In the absence of clear policies, existing state and utility energy efficiency programs have been shrinking, and plans for the near future remain modest at best. The result? Jobs across the state are being lost every day.
The Building Performance Contractors Association, a trade association that works with hundreds of green-collar businesses in New York, estimates that its member companies have laid off 10 to 30 percent of its workers in the last year, while others are leaving the industry altogether. In contrast, these same businesses could be hiring 50 to 100 percent more workers if there was a clear policy that truly reflected the value of energy efficiency.
With the Public Service Commission at full strength, the time to act is now. The commission has full authority to fulfill the REV promise by adopting firm efficiency goals, and rules that will stimulate efficiency investments.
If the governor and the PSC will not act, the Legislature will. Sen. Dan Carlucci has introduced a bill (S6771), to ensure New York continues to be a leader in energy efficiency. Whatever the means, we need to make sure energy efficiency is a priority in New York now and into the future.
Adam Procell is CEO of Lime Energy, which partners with utilities and business to deliver energy efficiency upgrades. Andy Frank is the CEO of Sealed, which finances home efficiency upgrades with energy savings.
This article originally appeared in the Albany Times Union on July 6, 2017. The full article is available to subscribers on the Times Union website.