The Middletown Press
By Luther Turmelle, email@example.com
HARTFORD >> As Connecticut lawmakers begin to consider a slew of energy-related bills, they spent time Monday listening to advice from New York State’s “energy czar” and other experts about how the relationship between the utility industry and government needs to be overhauled.
Richard Kauffman, New York State’s chairman of energy & finance, described regulated utilities as being “like birds in gilded cages,” but said their resistance to change is a product of the environment from which they originally came. Kauffman was the featured speaker at the forum “Utility 2.0 — the Utility of the Future,” which the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee hosted at the Legislative Office Building.
“The current system comes from a time when the demand for energy was thought to be fixed,” he told the legislative panel.
Kauffman joined the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February 2013 with a directive to increase use of renewable energy in the state, to attract clean energy businesses to the state and to make the electric grid there more resilient and reliable. Kauffman served as senior adviser to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu prior to his current job.
Kauffman said his efforts to remake New York’s electric utility marketplace are focusing heavily on technology. To illustrate the point, he noted that New York State spent $16 billion on energy infrastructure improvements over the past 10 years and will spend nearly two time that — $30 billion — over the next 10 years.
But the cost of such heavy investment in technology should promote the increased use of data that can be used by the utilities themselves or by third-party providers to solve energy problems. Kaufmann said utilities need to be more entrepreneurial, much like the relationship that computer giant Apple has with the third party providers that produce IPhone applications. For full article…