2017 NYAE Q1 Recap: at NYU CGA with NYSERDA Chairman Richard Kauffman

-Tanner Kenney, Fellow

On March 23rd, New York Advanced Energy was proud to partner with NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and Zpryme to bring NYSERDA Chairman Richard Kauffman to speak with NYAE stakeholder members at the CGA campus in Manhattan’s historic Woolworth Building.

The discussion began with welcoming remarks from Advanced Energy Group Founder and CEO, H.G. Chissell, and an introduction from the Center’s Academic Director, Prof. Carolyn Kissane. The conversation began with a question regarding the requisite skills for current and prospective students in order to succeed in their study of energy.

Mr. Kauffman addressed the need for students to understand the interconnections between various industries such as energy and finance in order to understand the broader landscape, and then drill-down to specifics when attempting to answer questions relating to subjects like stranded assets.

Prof. Kissane then addressed the necessity for collaboration amongst key parties in New York State’s energy marketplace and Mr. Kauffman’s response went beyond encouragement in stating that the need for collaboration in the state is great as “nobody is happy with the status quo.” Mr. Kauffman addressed the need for developing a multitude of clean energy capacity as fossil fuel plants, although reliable, are dirty “peaky.”

Among the many topics discussed were climate change and resiliency, NYSERDA’s role in bringing parties from private and public institutions together, and New York City’s “grid of the future.” Mr. Kauffman discussed the accomplishments of NYISO, ConEd, and other institutions that are working towards a more modernized grid that would allow for the multi-directional transmission of electrons.

One tool at the state’s disposal, Mr. Kauffman asserted, was financial incentives for those seeking to make their receipt of energy cleaner and more reliable. And while there is “a lot more” work to be done, the pace of change in the economy is generally accelerating even though regulatory processes are “too judicious.”

Mr. Kauffman also addressed the ‘elephant in the room’ as it comes to national energy policy that is the new federal administration. In regards to what will come of the federal funding for NYS energy projects, Mr. Kauffman stated that “we don’t know” what direction the government will be taking. He then lauded Gov. Cuomo’s support of the Clean Power Plan and stated that the governor was “genuinely concerned” about the environment and was hopeful that the growth in renewable generation capacity will be maintained as coal is now an uneconomical fuel source.

In regards to interstate communications, Mr. Kauffman lauded the work done by utilities and regulators in the state of Texas, but lamented the inability to share much of the knowledge, skills, and technology across borders as these expenses would not be covered by state reimbursement. Therefore, it is imperative that NGOs work to bring members of local and state governments together with practitioners and thought leaders to collaborate on grid modernization.

The panel closed with a question from Prof. Kissane regarding high-level policymakers keeping abreast of technological change at a granular level. The answer from Mr. Kauffman? Meetings. And lots of them! The panel then opened to allow for questions from the audience and, following the discussion, attendees enjoyed a reception with Advanced Energy stakeholder members, CGA students, faculty, and alumni, and various other members of the energy community.

Throughout the event, Japanese artist Dragon painted a mural in support of clean, green energy for the non-profit, Japanese NGO Peace Boat. Lastly, the Advanced Energy Group is excited to announce its next New York City event! NYAE’s Q2 Stakeholder Event will be focused on Smart Buildings and the Grid Modernization of Cities. If you would like to attend, please request an invite here.