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Industry Changes are Making a Splash

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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Mar 31, 2023

According to the Oxford dictionary, the butterfly effect is defined as the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.  Perhaps something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings could not cause a typhoon but mandates, bans and new legislation are having far-reaching effects in the industry.    

New York state lawmakers are proposing that new homes would not include fossil fuel furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, or gas stoves.  “All eyes are on us and a lot of other states are looking to what New York does,” said Pat McClellan, policy director at the New York League of Conservation Voters.  Not everyone agrees with the method of execution regarding climate change goals.  “I would prefer that we incentivize electric buildings, either through tax credits or other proposals, rather than forcing it as an issue because there’s a lot of concern and angst in particular in western New York,” said Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster). “We shouldn’t necessarily ban people from pursuing other options if that’s what they want.”

In Vermont, lawmakers want to boost renewables by mandating energy storage.  “If we are going to make this transition, we need to set targets, we need to set policy requirements that help us move toward our goals and our requirements,” said Sen. Anne Watson, D/P-Washington County. “ Energy storage is imperative to reliability but should it be mandated by the state?  Law or not, local utilities have already begun deploying the technology.  “I see storage as being key to the transition to renewable energy,” said Craig Kieny of the Vermont Electric Co-op. 

Officials are also urging utilities to be more transparent.  Some out of concern for best business practices and others in response to high electricity bills.  “I’m just fed up. I’m tired of paying these bills,” said Robert Moreno about SDE&G’s proposed rate hike.  Customers gave utility companies low scores on ease of doing business because they were unable to understand the charges on their utility bill. “While the decline in the Customer Effort Score is concerning, it presents an opportunity for utilities to take action and improve their customer experience,” said K.C. Boyce, vice president at Escalent. “By focusing on simplifying their bills, improving communication around their programs and providing better customer service, utilities can make it easier for their customers to do business with them.”

How would a ban on fossil fuel dependent appliances impact your utility?  How well would a mandate on energy storage, energy management or energy efficiency programs be received?  Would opening the books to outside review reduce or increase scrutiny?  The ripple effect of these proposed changes is making a splash for utilities.  Many are moving forward with their own roadmap and slowing down for necessary changes in wind direction as the need arises. 


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