New York’s environmental and utility regulators are moving closer to a unified approach to building a cleaner, more robust, and affordable energy system.
The Public Service Commission (PSC), New York’s utility regulator, has been working to rethink how New York makes, moves, and uses electricity through its innovative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative. Specifically, it has been steering utilities toward a more decentralized electric grid, one that relies more heavily on distributed energy resources. These resources may be clean (such as energy efficiency or solar rooftops) but they may also be dirty (such as older diesel generators). While REV aims to encourage carbon emissions reductions, there is a risk that the initiative could cause environmental harm by driving adoption of dirty distributed energy resources. Getting environmental rules in place before REV becomes a driver of these types of emissions is a matter of real urgency.
In December 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) moved to assist the PSC with this dilemma by proposing Part 222, a new set of regulatory standards that aim to address emissions from generators that burn fossil fuels. (EDF recently submitted comments in response to the proposal.) Federal regulations exist for some distributed generation emissions, but they are limited and not tailored to the needs of New York’s increasingly decentralized electric grid. With these newly proposed regulatory standards, we can begin to address the issue that while some distributed energy resources can be expected to bring great environmental benefits, others may be very damaging to public health and the environment.
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