New York Launches REV Connect: The Start of Energy’s Amazon?

New York took its next big step toward creating what some describe as the Amazon.com of distributed energy with yesterday’s unveiling of REV Connect, a digital portal for market players to buy and sell services and products.

REV ConnectREV Connect is the latest move by New York to enact its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a massive rethinking of how distributed energy is delivered. REV tries to marshal the kind of competitive forces for distributed energy now reserved for wholesale energy markets.

The new platform will “accelerate the ability of innovators, utilities, and customers” to bring innovations to market, said John Rhodes, chairman of New York Public Service Commission.

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the portal is a free and open venue where industry players can interact, present problems and solutions, identify business opportunities, find partners and form teams.

REV Connect is the first centralized platform offered by a state that matches utility needs and distributed energy resources in an interactive way.

Unlike Amazon, REV Connect does not actually sell off-the-shelf products that are bought or sold on the site. Instead, the portal is designed to make it easy for technology companies to scan the marketplace for opportunities and gain deeper expertise into REV. At the same time, REV Connect gives utilities a place to get a wide view of technological possibilities when they need to solve a problem, improve a practice, upgrade, or expand infrastructure.

REV Connect can be used in several different ways.

Utilities can post requests for energy resources to bolster their infrastructure and services, so that developers, suppliers and other independent companies are aware of the opportunity and can vie for the business.

The process also works in reverse with independent companies submitting ideas, business models and innovations and finding partners and buyers. After vetting the project, the REV Connect team may try to match it with utilities, state energy agencies or other market partners.

The REV Connect team may also help refine a business case or give technical support to a project.

Utilities are not obligated to adopt the proposals offered by independents. Some utilities may use the market intelligence gleaned to issue a request for proposals and chose a partner competitively.

A way to navigate the new energy landscape

The portal also will offer opportunity for utilities to explore new revenue models, an increasing preoccupation within the industry, born out of concern that use of distributed energy by customers will reduce their purchase of utility electricity.

“REV Connect will help third parties and utilities navigate the new energy landscape in New York to catalyze innovation, support new utility business and revenue models and advance the state’s leadership in modernizing its energy system and addressing climate change affordably and smartly,” said Richard Kauffman, New York’s chairman of energy and finance.

Several business opportunities are already up on the site, supplied by utilities. Among them are non-wires alternatives needed in specific locations, peak load reduction projects, and utility efforts to expand electrification for transportation, heating and cooling.

NYSERDA says that it wants REV Connect to produce projects that are self-sustaining, activate markets, promote clean and resilient energy, lower costs, and give customers greater choices.

The state sees the portal building on other REV programs, among them the NY Prize, a $40 million incentive program for microgrids.

The REV Connect team includes Navigant Consulting, which developed the portal in partnership with the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) Consortium and Modern Grid Partners.

NYSERDA plans to hold a webinar about how REV Connect works at 2 p.m. ET, August 30.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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