By: Emilio Petrocionne, NYSEC State Regulatory Counsel
In January 2016, the New York State Public Service Commission issued an order establishing the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) with a $5 billion investment to grow New York's clean energy economy. A main purpose of the CEF is to provide assistance for the Governor's Clean Energy Standard (CES) that requires 50% of New York State's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030. Among its many other responsibilities and goals, the CEF is intended to accelerate the adoption of energy efficiency measures to reduce energy use which will contribute to meeting the CES's goals.
Throughout the CEF proceeding, oil heat marketers supported a "fuel neutral" approach for the promotion and implementation of energy efficiency measures. We urged the state to adopt a policy that would provide energy efficiency programs to all customers regardless of fuel use. In doing so marketers supported the long standing position of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that a whole-building, fuel neutral approach should be implemented to advance energy efficiency measures for all residential and commercial customers. Heating oil marketers joined in this view and explained to the PSC that such an approach would encourage innovation, provide consumers with energy cost savings, reduce fuel use, and be environmentally beneficial to the state.
The fuel neutral concept was ultimately adopted by the PSC in its CEF order. This means that as NYSERDA implements energy efficiency programs for heating oil and other non-utility fuels, it will fully apply a fuel neutral approach and utilize funds from several sources including the Regional Environmental Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGI) and possibly electric utility surcharges.
One unfortunate aspect of the Commission's 2016 CEF Order was that it was not applicable statewide. Electric authorities such as the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) were excluded from the application of a fuel neutral standard largely for jurisdictional reasons. Therefore, oil heat consumers in Nassau and Suffolk Counties would not be eligible for some efficiency programs under the Order.
However, in welcome news, a recent filing made at the PSC by PSEG Long Island (PSEGLI) indicates that it intends to implement an approach that would benefit Long Island heating oil consumers. PSGELI has stated that its promotion of energy efficiency programs would not only include electric customers but also oil heat customers as well. Thus, implementation of the plan should increase efficiency opportunities for LIPA service territory heating oil customers. In addition, NYSEC continues to work with NYSERDA to bring additional energy efficiency opportunities to all oil heat customers.