New York’s energy leadership team, elected officials, and community members are gathering across the State for the Statewide Winter Energy Tour. We sat down with Micah Kotch, director of NY Prize and Strategic Innovation at NYSERDA, to get the low-down on what to expect from this series of events including an update on NY Prize, a $40 million microgrid competition.
What do you hope to achieve with the energy tour?
We want to present our vision, our goals and our programs to create an energy system in New York that revolves around the people of New York. We’re excited about interacting and enlisting communities as our partners. That really means having a dialogue and understanding their priorities which can include health, comfort, independence and convenience. We understand that different communities across the state may have different priorities, and we know that the state as a whole has shared goals around economic development, and making communities more resilient in the face of more frequent extreme weather events.
The Statewide Winter Energy Tour is a great opportunity to present recent energy initiatives like Reforming the Energy Vision, the Clean Energy Fund, the NY Green Bank, that are putting the State at the forefront of energy policy. In addition, initiatives like K-Solar and NY Prize are harnessing community aggregation as a tool to drive affordable clean energy.
How does NY Prize, which is the focus of the tour, involve local organizations?
NY Prize is a program that is designed to help communities deploy more distributed energy resources, become more connected and resilient during times of emergency, and demonstrate new business models that lead to more affordable energy options and new products and services for customers. This allows local communities to take the reins on their energy future. We’re engaging towns, counties, municipalities as well as utilities and community-based organizations in the design of what those systems might look like. Many communities already are taking action with microgrid plans, and we want to help them build on this as well as encourage others to get on board. During our Energy Tour, community leaders in clean technology and microgrid implementation will share their stories to give firsthand knowledge on the benefits.
What was the idea behind the locations chosen for the Tour?
New York is a big, diverse state and it’s important for us to hear from different voices from Montauk to Manhattan to the Mohawk Valley. We’re going to visit all 10 regions across the state and are holding these forums on college campuses. We fully understand that local energy solutions in the North Country may look very different from solutions in Long Island, but because we are one state, we want to enlist everyone and identify models that are scalable and repeatable. We can’t do this alone. We exist to serve the people of this state, and they are critical partners in designing a more flexible, optimized energy system. It’s certainly a guiding principle that we’re going to work with and through markets; to do that we need to listen to and engage with the people and organizations to understand market gaps, and leverage private sector capital and talent. There’s no substitute for genuine feedback from the market, from our partners.
What are you looking forward to most with this tour?
I’m looking forward to engaging with people who have been in the trenches, who have been on the front lines of making New York a leader in efficiency and renewable energy and the people who are critical for us in this next phase of our endeavors. This is a movement driven by people and organizations working together to achieve common goals and a vision that is not about technology as an end, but about technology, policy and markets in the service of strong, vibrant communities.
Be sure to follow Micah at @cleantechnyc as he tweets live about his energy tour experience!