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Anne Arquit Niederberger4/15/18 12:00 AM3 min read

Reinventing NY’s energy vision. Are we there yet?

Last week at Oracle Industry Connect 2018, sponsored by Enervee, industry peers met to share deep-domain expertise and best practices on the mission-critical applications that are core to their businesses. One of the Energy & Utilities sector highlights was the insightful Executive Panel on the State of NY’s signature push under its revamped energy strategy, Reforming the Energy Vision (REV).

Adeptly moderated by Marisa Uchin, Oracle’s VP for Global Regulatory Affairs, panelists shared their frank take on a series of important questions surrounding REV progress: Are the building blocks in place? Is innovation happening? Is the timeframe aligned with the needs of market actors? What are the remaining barriers?

John Rhodes, currently serving as CEO of the NY Department of Public Service and Chair of the State’s Public Service Commission, which oversees the utility response to REV, was ideally placed to comment on the trials and tribulations of overhauling the utility regulatory framework to drive innovation.

His conclusion? Things are moving — but not fast enough.

The tipping point in terms of commitment to REV, Rhodes recalled, was reached after superstorm Sandy made abundantly clear in 2012 that change was necessary to improve resiliency and when the success of the Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program (BQDM) demonstrated that it was possible to coordinate demand reduction commitments to relieve overloads on the local electric system.

The Con Edison Marketplace, which was among the initial set of REV demonstration projects launched back in 2016, was featured as a concrete innovation example by Rhodes, Matt Ketschke, ConEd’s SVP of Customer Energy Solutions, and Enervee’s Co-Founder and CEO, Matthias Kurwig. Rhodes noted that REV demos create a safe harbor to experiment and learn — and that some of the 16 demos have failed, while others are on track to succeed: “That’s what you want in an innovative portfolio. The idea of de-risking innovation is something I don’t get.”

ConEd’s Connected Homes project is one of the successful REV demos. Oracle’s behavioral Home Energy Reports have transitioned out of demo status and the Con Edison Marketplace has outperformed on energy savings.

ConEd’s Ketschke highlighted how Marketplace has gone beyond efficient products, to enable the utility to market third-party solar, and soon EVs, to customers via Enervee. The Marketplace is just one customer-facing application within the broader IDEAL Customer Platform that Enervee brings to the table in it’s relationship with Con Edison.

The REV demonstration project framework has proven supportive of Enervee’s ability to bring innovative new solutions to market. Matthias Kurwig:

“Things move a million times faster in NY than elsewhere. Enervee launched our solar marketplace first in NY, and we will be launching EVs in NY in May. REV has been critical for maximizing Marketplace impact, by optimizing utility and Enervee marketing to households not tied to old-school rebates.”

Con Edison has fully embraced the demonstration framework, allowing Enervee to deploy new products and services quickly. “In addition to rooftop solar”, said Kurwig, “ConEd was Enervee’s first client to take advantage of third party advertising, demonstrating audience monetization strategies that generate new utility revenue streams. The utility has also committed to the initial deployment of instant rebates for lighting and thermostats, delivered in partnership with online retailers.”

Con Edison and Enervee are proving that if you deliver value to your customers, you can thrive under new business models. But this takes a commitment to innovation that puts REV, ConEd and Enervee at the high end of the spectrum. As Rodger Smith, SVP and General Manager of Oracle’s Utilities Global Business Unit, noted:

“70–75% of utility IT spend goes to maintenance of on-premise software, leaving only 25% for innovation. This is why customers are at the forefront of dragging the industry forward.”

Customers increasingly balk at being considered merely “load” or “ratepayers” and are demanding much more from government officials and energy providers. NY REV’s pragmatic approach to remove barriers, reduce friction and set rules of engagement that support innovation & investment will hopefully inspire others to be bold and rise to the challenges facing the energy industry.

Meanwhile, Enervee will keep innovating with our partners in New York to make it simple and compelling for all of us to shop energy smart.