Reviewing REV: New York’s Transformational Energy Proposal

on September 03, 2015 at 2:00 PM

One World Trade Center Deemed Tallest Building In North America

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is a New York initiative that would create a radically different electric system and change the way power is generated and distributed in the state. Utilities would direct the distribution of electricity produced by thousands of smaller entities.

REV encompasses areas such as regulatory reform; load/peak demand management; consumer management of energy use; and the development of solar and other distributed energy sources, including electricity production by customers.

The state Public Service Commission is currently working with investor-owned utilities in New York on “demonstration” projects that have been developed for potential statewide deployment. These and future REV projects encompass micro grids, smart grids, and the marketplace.

REV would shift energy generation from large, power suppliers to micro grids located in the communities they serve. These small-scale versions of the energy grid are envisioned as a way to boost reliability and energy efficiency.

Smart grids add new technology to the electric grid to communicate real-time information about consumer demand, producer generation, and the flow of electricity. Utilities can adjust electricity delivery depending on consumer demand, while customers adjust their usage in response to power availability or prices.

REV also intends to make energy cleaner and more affordable by encouraging consumers to produce electricity and selling excess power to the grid.

REV reminds us that great ideas should build upon the foundation of established infrastructure and be cost beneficial to ratepayers. Consider micro grids, for example. Over $1 billion worth of proposals to improve and expand large areas of the state’s grid await review from the PSC. Expediting many of these projects is necessary to fortify statewide electricity distribution. By focusing on the development of hyper-local microsystems the statewide electric transmission network could become neglected and degraded. As such, broader transmission investments should be prioritized over micro grids.

The process facilitating REV is under scrutiny. New York State Senator John DeFrancisco, has introduced legislation that would require the fiscal analysis of proposed REV projects. Passing it should be one of the first priorities when the Legislature reconvenes.

Developing new energy marketplaces is exciting, but we must protect New York’s ratepayers by ensuring that only private investment will fund these projects. New York must maintain an open, competitive marketplace with a level playing field that encourages innovation while private investors bear the financial risks of their projects.

The state should also reduce a very troubling energy cost for New Yorkers: the taxes and fees that make up 25 percent of a typical residential electric utility bill. REV pledges to address “rising electric bills”[i] and avoid “uncollectable bills,”[ii] yet the state has not taken any steps to cut the excessive taxes it imposes on ratepayers, which are especially onerous  for New Yorkers who live on fixed incomes. This should be resolved by New York State first and foremost.

In fact, REV should only move forward if cost/benefit analyses confirm that the resulting regulatory changes and new technology will reduce energy costs and cut toxic emissions. Ultimately, REV’s vision must only be achieved in an open and accountable manner, for the sake of all New Yorkers who need clean, reliable, affordable energy and a healthy environment.

Arthur “Jerry” Kremer served in the New York State Assembly from 1966 to 1988, eventually becoming chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, a position he held for ten years. He now serves as chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA), a diverse organization of more than 150 business, labor, and community leaders and organizations. Founded in 2003, New York AREA’s mission and purpose is to ensure that the New York metropolitan area has an ample and reliable electricity supply and economic prosperity for years to come. For more information, visit