A recent article from Politico featured quotations from Lime Energy President and CEO Adam Procell regarding the slow pace of energy efficiency in New York. For this post, we spoke to Procell about the article, the current state of efficiency in New York, and his optimism about the future for efficiency in New York.
Politico’s article highlighted how New York and Governor Andrew Cuomo are falling short of their energy efficiency goals. In the piece, titled “Slow Pace of Energy Efficiency May Imperial Cuomo’s Green Goals,” author Marie J. French presents a convincing case that the state is not on pace to meets its own goals for energy efficiency. Citing a wide range of industry experts, from Cuomo administration officials to clean energy advocates, French shows that while all parties have the same goal – to reduce building energy use by 23 percent by 2030 – current policies are insufficient to meet that goal.
New York is not on pace to meet that 23 percent goal. New York was once a leader in energy efficiency. It has fallen from third to seventh in statewide energy efficiency rankings over the last four years. Explanations for that decline vary. According to Procell, the rapid shift away from reliance on traditional incentive programs alone, without an adequate policy to replace them, has handicapped efficiency in New York.
A representative from the Cuomo administration questioned the ability of the traditional programs to achieve the 23 percent goal. He may be right. However, the state’s current policies are achieving less, not more efficiency. While traditional incentive programs alone may be insufficient, they remain the only proven method, despite the state’s aspirations for creating a market-based approach to energy efficiency. The ultimate solution, agreed several individuals quoted by French, will be long-term energy efficiency targets and a policy that allows energy efficiency to compete with other grid resources.
The piece ended with some cautious optimism. If New York expands its emphasis on efficiency, industry will respond as it did in the past. “The industry was ramped up,” explained Procell, “we had the jobs, we created them.” Energy efficiency providers are prepared to expand to meet the state’s needs. “If they get the policy statement right,” Procell concluded, “you would see a very rapid increase” in both the amount of energy efficiency delivered to New York and the jobs and economic growth associated with that efficiency.
After the article was published, we sat down with Adam to see if there was anything he would add. He had a few suggestions. More than anything, he believed that the piece understated his optimism. He stressed that Lime Energy has adopted strategies and technologies to prepare for the future of energy efficiency in New York. Procell expects budgets to grow. When they do, he says, Lime Energy and its partners and competitors will be ready to match that growth.
While Lime Energy and others have continued to innovate with an optimistic eye toward the future, the state has lagged behind. Now is the time for New York policymakers to act. Since New York announced REV in 2015, the state wasted three years. Energy efficiency accomplishments have declined when they needed to rise. According to Procell, New York needs to match the energy efficiency realized by leading states. Currently it only aims for half and achieves even less. As French’s article states, each year that New York falls short means greater future burdens. Further delay may put existing goals out of reach. Ultimately this article puts important pressure on New York’s leaders to expand the state’s investment in energy efficiency. When they do, new innovations from Lime Energy and similar companies will enable the state to rapidly ramp efficiency to desired levels.