The Market Development and Regulatory Affairs (MDRA) Squad at Uplight has been active across the country supporting Uplight’s mission to create a sustainable future. In New Jersey, we have been partnering with stakeholders to ensure that the state’s initiatives, including the Governor’s Energy Master Plan (EMP), leverage the expertise of technology solutions providers to design and implement first-class programs to improve customer experience, expand customer choice, and ensure a path to cleaner energy in the state.
A few weeks ago, I presented comments on the draft EMP in Camden, NJ to the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), which is gathering stakeholder input and will help carry out the vision presented in the EMP. To give you an insight on the tone of the event, as I walked in a group was chanting “What do we want? RENEWABLES. When do we want them? NOW.” Suffice it to say that those in New Jersey want to ensure that the EMP lives up to its stated goals.
The draft EMP, released by Governor Murphy’s office in June, provides a potential roadmap for how New Jersey will guarantee a clean energy future, including achieving goals like 100% clean energy and 80% carbon reduction by 2050.
Experts from ACEEE, EPRI, IEA, and McKinsey all agree that 30 to 40% of carbon abatement will come from energy efficiency, with additional gains from demand flexibility and integrating renewables. New Jersey is well positioned to realize these reductions. The Legislature has provided the right legislation with the Clean Energy Act of 2018; the New Jersey utilities, including the largest in the state, demonstrated an unprecedented commitment to implementing it; and, stakeholders including environmental advocates and technology solutions providers have stepped up to participate with public comments and private outreach.
Implementation of the strategic vision laid out in the draft EMP will depend on many factors moving forward (complexities abound when trying to achieve ambitious goals). Through our own work across the country with over 85 utility clients, we see room for New Jersey to leverage lessons from other implementation efforts in the following ways:
1. Integrate programs for energy efficiency and demand response
Integrated energy efficiency and demand response programs take advantage of customer acquisition and operational synergies to reduce costs and speed up deployment of key distributed energy resources. ACEEE’s recent review of integrated EE/DR programs expands upon the benefits of integration and presents findings and recommendations that can help the BPU chart a path towards integration of these programs in New Jersey (Figure 1).
Figure 1. EE/DR Program Integration Provides Range of Benefits (Source: Uplight)
2. Clarify early on the roles and responsibilities for those involved (e.g. NJ Office of Clean Energy, utilities)
Uplight recently commissioned the Brattle Group to examine demand side management programs across the country. In this study, Brattle researchers present the relative strengths of different administration types (Figure 2) and conclude that roles of stakeholders, especially utilities, should be clearly outlined in order to achieve the full potential for energy savings.
Figure 2. Program Administrator Strengths (Source: Brattle Working Draft)
3. Roll out programs as soon as possible to ensure rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and full benefits to New Jersey residents.
Now is the time to act as the climate crisis continues to march forward. Technology providers and other subject matter experts can help accelerate implementation and execution.
Putting into practice these three improvements combined with the right set of legislation, utility involvement, and stakeholder engagement, New Jersey has an opportunity to ensure that the rhetoric of their goals is matched by reality of execution.
Charting the Future
With customers across the country, at Uplight we have seen first-hand how implementation of energy efficiency programs works under different regulatory and incentive conditions. Since I provided in-person comments a few weeks ago on the draft EMP, the Uplight MDRA Squad has and will continue to work with regulators, thought leaders, utilities, and others in the energy ecosystem to ensure that the sustainable future we envision can be fully realized.