New Con Edison Rate Plan Promotes Energy Efficiency

In January 2017, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a new rate plan for Con Edison that includes several energy efficiency breakthroughs for New York City: automatic uploading of benchmarking data, $99 million of new efficiency programs, and novel performance incentives to integrate efficiency into the utility’s core business. The order, which sets Con Edison’s rates from 2017 through 2019, caps off a year-long stakeholder negotiation that culminated with a joint settlement proposal last fall.

Photo credit: Michael Tapp, Flickr (CC)

Benchmarking Better

With this green light from the PSC, Con Edison will implement by year-end a system for automatically uploading whole-building energy data for benchmarking in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and eliminate the current $102.50 fee to boot. The upgrade will bring Con Edison in line with most utilities across the country providing benchmarking data, and it’s also an all-around win: less administrative burden for the utility, easier and cheaper benchmarking for building owners, and more complete and accurate data for the city. Most importantly, last year’s expansion of benchmarking to mid-size buildings was conditioned on an automatic upload system, so the clock is now ticking for mid-size building owners to begin benchmarking in 2018.

Doubling Energy Savings

The order also significantly ramps up Con Edison’s efficiency programs, adding to existing programs a new $99 million portfolio over three years to deliver more than 300 GWh of savings – that’s enough electricity to power 50 to 60 large New York commercial office buildings for a year! As outlined in this NRDC analysis, the new programs should bring a twofold increase in Con Edison’s efficiency-program savings, from 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent of the utility’s total load.

Modernizing Utilities

More broadly, the rate plan aligns with the state’s ongoing effort to modernize utilities for a 21st century grid with the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding. The PSC’s order marks the state’s first approval for funding energy efficiency as an integral component of a rate case. And the plan includes novel performance incentives, both to encourage Con Edison to meet or exceed its efficiency program targets, but also to spur actions to save electricity beyond any specific program. These latter “outcome-based” incentives are still being finalized but will reward improvements to a set of energy intensity and load factor metrics. Together, the program funding and incentives will help make energy efficiency – and the dollar and emissions savings it delivers – a revenue-generating part of the utility’s core business.

Urban Green has worked to advance automatic upload and energy efficiency with utilities, the PSC, and the city, and we celebrate this significant step forward.

About the author

Christopher Halfnight
Chris works to advance Urban Green’s policy priorities with government and professional associations. He has experience in energy and water policy with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Conservation Law Foundation.