Above The City: Aerial Views Of New York

While New York is often referred to as the global energy finance center, it is not otherwise known as an energy industry focal point. That appears to be changing, however, as energy issues have recently shot towards the top of local and state political agendas and high-profile energy events – like New York Energy Week – are increasingly being held in the New York Metropolitan area.

Breaking Energy recently spoke with the New York Energy Week founders at energy policy research and data company Energy Solutions Forum about the initiative’s origin and goals. Energy Solutions Forum was created by a group of former banking analysts who found the need for a policy data service given the increasing Wall Street focus on regulations and policy that drive stock price movements.

“There are a few thousand agencies that make policy at local, state and federal levels, and government websites can be challenging to use,” ESF’s Emily Bjorklund recently told Breaking Energy. “These websites tend to be fragmented, so we are creating a platform called EnerKnol that will capture this information and put in single place. This will help institutional investors and traders who need data, numbers, dates etc.,” she said. It will be complementary to the political intelligence industry that has been gaining traction in recent years.

Another prominent Energy Solutions Forum feature is the ESF Calendar, “which curates energy business events in the NY area and puts them on a publicly-available calendar,” located on the ESF website, Angelique Mercurio, ESF Founder, told Breaking Energy. “So New York Energy Week grew from this,” she said.

New York Energy Week is a collaborative event series that spans business sectors and “brings everyone to the table,” said Bjorklund. “New York is having its energy moment, both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo are pushing energy initiatives, and there is strong motivation post Hurricane Sandy,” she said.

Energy Week is community-driven, so anyone is invited to participate – there will be formal events like breakfasts every morning, marquee gatherings like an Energy Data Jam hosted by Google and evening events like cocktail parties.

The Google Energy Data Jam – similar to a hackathon – will bring entrepreneurs together to examine open energy-related data sets, like how many people are installing solar panels, in order to develop solutions to challenges and identify business opportunities. For example, a data jam held in New York last year led to the development of the Green Button initiative that allows users to download utility usage information designed to help save energy and money on utility bills, said ESF.

When asked how they got the idea for New York Energy Week, Bjorklund said “it’s an extension of the mission to use data and information to help spur development and investment in the energy industry – the goal is to drive innovation and investment.”

“It’s really a catalyst for innovators seeking solutions to energy challenges – people who are not usually in the same room together – it helps small entrepreneurs liaise with the bigger guys,” said Mercurio.

She went on to ask, “How will we get to the solutions that we need? Not just what are the problems, but how do we solve them?” The founders hope collaboration and public/private partnerships will help foster the development of these solutions. For example, Richard Kauffman is the first NY energy czar – head of the NY Green Bank – he comes from the private sector and looks at the state’s energy issues as potential investment opportunities, Mercurio said. “We were very excited when we saw that [NY Green Bank] come out, we’re definitely looking for NY Energy Week to have a focus on the Green Bank, to help publicize it and move it forward – similar programs have been incredibly successful in places like Connecticut.”

The first annual NY Energy Week will be held throughout the week of June 24th and the organizers are nothing if not ambitious. “It will happen annually and we want it to grow into something akin to Fashion Week for the energy community,” said Bjorklund.

As a Founding Sponsor of NY Energy Week, Breaking Energy will be featuring interviews with keynote speakers and participating organization representatives over the weeks leading up to the event. Breaking Energy’s Peter Gardett is also a NYEW board member.