New York's utilities lead the way to net zero emissions – Utility Dive

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This week, international leaders from business and government converge in New York City for the 15th annual Climate Week NYC summit. Held in parallel to the United Nations General Assembly, Climate Week NYC showcases climate action spanning from global to local efforts.
New York State not only plays host to Climate Week NYC but, given its recently-adopted Climate Action Plan, can also credibly call itself a global leader on climate. The state’s ambitious plan targets net-zero emissions by 2050, a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an ambitious target of 70% renewable energy powering the Empire State by 2030.
New York’s electric utilities, known collectively as the Joint Utilities, have already begun taking steps to meet Climate Action Plan targets, from entering into power purchase agreements with offshore wind developers to ensuring that the state’s power grid will be ready for a 2035 ban on the sale of combustion-engine vehicles.
Earlier this year, the Joint Utilities developed implementation plans for programs that will intelligently integrate electric vehicles into New York’s power grid, also known as “managed EV charging.” Given New York State’s goal of having 850,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025, the Joint Utilities have wasted no time in implementing innovative measures to advance vehicle-grid integration and have provided a blueprint for other utilities and states to follow.
Con Edison, the state’s largest electric utility with 3.6 million customers, has been at the forefront of vehicle-grid integration since 2017 with its Smart Charge New York program, the country’s largest managed EV charging program with over 10,000 vehicles enrolled, from all-electric fleets like Revel rideshare to Bronx residents who charge their vehicle curbside. With the average EV driver earning $400 per year through the program’s 10¢/kWh off-peak incentive paid monthly to their Venmo or PayPal account – and some drivers earning over $1,000 per year – Smart Charge New York is understandably a hit with customers of Con Edison and its sister utility, Orange & Rockland Utilities (O&R). And with a broad range of New Yorkers participating – from Uber drivers, to families, to the City of New York’s electric fleet – Con Edison and O&R are helping their customers breathe cleaner air across the New York City area.
Further north, New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) and Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E), both owned by energy services company Avangrid with a combined 1.3 million electric service customers, have sought to introduce simplicity for customers with their OptimizEV program. NYSEG and RG&E customers must perform only 80% of their EV charging during off-peak hours to get a flat monthly cash-back incentive plus a $25 or $150 bonus depending on whether they allow the utility to schedule their off-peak charging. Nestled within NYSEG’s service area, utility Central Hudson has introduced a customer waitlist for a similar program that has not yet launched.
And across Upstate New York, National Grid has introduced an innovative EV Charge Smart Plan that fixes customers’ off-peak charging costs through a Netflix-style monthly subscription. Depending on their EV charging consumption, customers can currently select from two fixed-price plans and even move between plans as their lifestyle and driving habits change. With a $150 enrollment bonus and an intuitive subscription charging offer, the EV Charge Smart Plan may become a tipping point in the average Upstate New Yorker’s decision on whether or not to go electric.
Transportation currently accounts for 47 percent of New York State’s CO2 emissions, and the New York Joint Utilities’ efforts to decarbonize transportation by making it easier for consumers to go electric represents a monumental step forward on the road to net-zero. New York’s customer-friendly programs can serve as a blueprint for other states and countries to put consumers at the center of a zero-emissions future.
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