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Solar Power Leads NYCHA’s New Sustainability Agenda

On Earth Day 2016, The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) released the “First-ever Comprehensive Sustainability Agenda for Healthy & Energy-Efficient Public Housing“. NYCHA is the nation’s largest residential landlord, providing permanently affordable housing to more than 400,000 low-income New Yorkers, many of whom would be homeless without public housing.

One of the  key components of authority’s ten-year sustainability roadmap is solar power installations.  NYCHA is pledging to generate 25 megawatts of power from solar panels by 2025. There will be 2.5 million square feet of panels. The Wall Street Journal says that’s enough to cover Washington Square Park. It would be enough to power 6,600 apartments.

NYCHA Sustainability Agenda Goal 1:

Achieve short-term financial stability and diversify funding for the long term

Attract investment for capital improvements:
 NYCHA will attract $300 million in private capital to fund large-scale retrofits through Energy Performance Contracts, and tap energy-efficiency incentive programs to reduce the capital needs of scattered-site developments by $30 million.

Raise revenues through clean and distributed energy projects:
NYCHA will develop a pipeline of commercial-scale solar projects for third-party solar developers, part of a joint initiative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Energy called Renew300. NYCHA will also develop a resilient microgrid and district energy system at Red Hook East and West Houses and support the City in identifying other opportunities for community-scale clean and distributed energy systems.

Focusing on resident health and comfort, and working hand-in-hand with sister agencies and community partners, NYCHA aims to achieve the following by 2025:

  • Eliminate the root causes of mold by fixing leaks in roofs, façades, and pipes and modernizing ventilation systems.
  • Eliminate overheating and unplanned heat and hot water outages.
  • Start on the path to meeting the City’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases
    80 percent by 2050.
  • Address climate adaptation and resiliency in all capital planning.
  • Incorporate sustainability into day-to-day management of all properties.

NYCHA Sustainability Agenda Downloads:

NYC Launches Solarize NYC!

Today (Earth Day 2016) Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced Solarize NYC, a new solar incentive program. The new Solarize NYC program will allow communities — including neighborhoods, business districts and houses of worship among other affiliations— to join together to form single purchasing groups. This benefits communities by giving them greater buying power than individual entities, while encouraging solar developers to build out capacity and sell power to community groups. Groups can apply through a new website, nycsolarize.com.

solarizeNYC_horizontal_color_jpg_scaled

Solarize NYC is a core component of New York City’s strategy to expand access to clean, reliable, and affordable solar power for all New Yorkers. Through One City: Built to Last, the City of New York funded the NYC Solar Partnership to continue its work to reduce market barriers for solar, attract more solar energy companies to the city, and increase the city’s installed solar capacity.

In addition to supporting the City’s goal of installing 250 MW of solar capacity on private property by 2025, Solarize NYC’s mission is to reduce barriers for communities that have historically had limited access to solar by providing informational resources and offering discounted pricing. Further, Solarize NYC supports the local solar industry by stimulating demand for local installers and reducing customer acquisition costs by aggregating customers.

What is Solarize?

Solarize is a short-term, local, community-led initiative that brings together groups of potential solar customers through widespread outreach and education. The Solarize model helps customers choose a solar installation company or companies that offer competitive, transparent pricing. Solarize programs leverage community purchasing to bring down the installed cost of solar for all participants. The traditional solarize model has three hallmarks:

  1. Competitive installer selection
  2. Community-led outreach and education
  3. Limited-time offer

Solarize campaigns reduce prices through competition, lower customer acquisition costs, and achieving economies of scale. Numerous variations on the Solarize model have emerged to allow room for creativity and innovation at a community-level.

What is a ‘Community’?

You tell us! Community applicants will have the opportunity to tell the NYC Solar Partnership how their Community is defined, whether the boundaries are geographic or otherwise.

Apply to Solarize Your Community

Solarize NYC is designed to serve the needs of both NYC communities and solar installers. Interested communities can apply to the NYC Solar Partnership to participate in the program. Once selected, the NYC Solar Partnership will work alongside community members to design a Solarize NYC campaign that is tailored to the needs of their community. Based on the campaign design, solar installers will be selected. With the design in-place and solar installers on board, the campaign will launch, led by community volunteers with the support of the NYC Solar Partnership.

Visit Solarize NYC!

Long Island Solar Market Grows 320% – Eliminates Need for Incentives

Significant growth in the Long Island residential solar market achieves NY-Sun target to create self-sustaining solar industry, eliminate the need for public incentives
Support for solar continues through tax credits, net metering, and affordable financing for underserved communities
April 19, 2016

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced 320 percent growth in the residential solar market on Long Island since 2012. Due to this significant growth, the region’s residential market is now self-sufficient and able to function without public subsidies available through NY-Sun. Long Island is the first region in the state to meet its residential solar target, and will continue to receive assistance through tax credits, affordable financing for underserved communities, and other supporting regulations.

NY-Sun was designed to stimulate solar growth and build a self-sustaining solar industry across the state. NY-Sun’s MW Block Program divided the State into three geographic regions, each with incentives allocated based on the maturity of the market, and with the level of incentives declining over time as pre-set targets were met.

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA, said, “The tremendous growth of solar on Long Island under Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun initiative has greatly expanded the use of clean, sustainable energy in the region. Long Island’s solar industry is strong and actively serving the growing clean energy market, and we know this momentum will continue.”

The NY-Sun MW Block program is intended to respond to changing market conditions in a predictable and transparent manner, and to allow the solar market in each region to grow at its own pace. The strategy to decrease incentives over time as targets are met, with an understanding these incentives will eventually be eliminated, is based on the strength of the market’s ability to be self-sustaining.

Long Island’s NY-Sun Residential MW Block capacity was 139 MW over four residential blocks. The level of incentive in the region decreased from $0.50 per watt in block one, which opened Jan. 1, 2014, to $0.20 per watt in block four, which began April 24, 2015, with two intermediate steps in between.

Other financial incentives and programs supporting residential solar installations are still available to Long Island residents, including state and federal tax credits, Affordable Solar for low- to moderate-income households, and the Solarize North Hempstead and Solarize Southampton campaigns. Through net metering, solar customers may also reduce costs if a solar energy system produces more electricity than their home requires.

In addition, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Board recently approved community net metering, which will offer opportunities for solar developers to build large off-site projects that residents can buy into or lease portions of to reduce their energy bills, and on-bill financing is expected to be available to Long Island customers through PSEG Long Island this summer.

NY-Sun has accelerated the growth of solar across the State, with the amount of solar power installed and in development under the Governor’s NY-Sun initiative increasing 575 percent from 2012 through 2015. New York’s solar industry is the fourth largest in the nation and employs more than 8,250 workers, an increase of more than 3,000 jobs since 2013. In 2016, double-digit job growth is expected to continue with another 1,000 additional jobs created as a result of the state’s robust solar project pipeline.

About Reforming the Energy Vision

Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York’s economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and generating 50% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven 600% growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80% by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.

Contact(s)

Peter Constantakes,
Phone : 518-862-1090, Ext. 3109
Email : peter.constantakes@nyserda.ny.gov

NY’s First Community Choice Aggregation Program is Here

CCA Will Purchase Electricity on Behalf of 90,000 Homes and Small Businesses in Westchester County

Mar 09, 2016, 10:40 ET from Sustainable Westchester

Today, Sustainable Westchester and 17 of the 20 Westchester County municipalities that comprise Westchester Smart Power announced that they have selected the winner of a$150M contract bid that aims to transform the way we buy and use energy. ConEdison Solutions, the deregulated subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., has been selected to provide electricity on behalf of 90,000 residential and small business customers throughout Westchester County. Under the CCA, each of the 17 municipalities now has a choice in whether to opt for a 100% renewable energy supply, greened through Green-e certificates, or a slightly lower priced energy supply that includes a standard mix of traditional and renewable energy sources. The contract is a milestone in what Westchester Smart Power intends to be a deep contribution of distributed energy resources (DER) in the state.

A Program That Redefines How We Purchase, Consume and Generate Energy

In 2015, Sustainable Westchester Inc., a local non-profit representing 40 communities in Westchester, was selected by New York State to manage the first Community Choice Aggregation pilot program under Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy. Together, the state’s first consortium of local governments joined to create Westchester Smart Power, giving municipalities the ability to contract directly with energy suppliers, acting as a single buyer, in order to realize bulk discounts on retail rates and to choose power from clean, renewable sources.

The Westchester Smart Power program unifies environmental and consumer interests as, for example, it achieves peak load reductions that may save as much as 100 Megawatts at peak hours, holding the potential to save residents and businesses an additional $10 million per year.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said, “As the first Community Choice Aggregation in New York State, Westchester Smart Power holds the potential to transform how consumers purchase, use and choose the energy for their homes and businesses. We congratulate the communities inWestchester County who have embraced Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy for a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system ensuring 50% of electricity consumed in New York comes from renewable power by 2030.”

20 of Sustainable Westchester’s 40 members have joined the Westchester Smart Power program. Municipalities that have joined the program include Bedford, Greenburgh, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Larchmont, Lewisboro,Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck, Mt. Kisco, New Castle, New Rochelle, North Salem, Town of Ossining,Village of Ossining, Pelham, Pleasantville, Rye Brook, Somers, Tarrytown and White Plains. Communities interested in participating should reach out to Sustainable Westchester for details about timing and participation in phase two of the program.

The Electric Service Agreement, drafted by Sustainable Westchester and attorneys and other representatives of the 20 participating municipalities, is a powerful document in its own right, emerging with 42 pages of protections for residential consumers and participating municipalities.

All residents and small businesses will be receiving letters from the municipalities outlining the details about Westchester Smart Power. Service for Westchester Smart Power customers will begin on May 1st.  For more information about Westchester Smart Power, go to www.westchestersmartpower.org.

“Westchester Smart Power will give consumers the opportunity to source clean power at more competitive rates. Unprecedented access to our consumption information and a commitment to buy together have been critical in enabling smarter, more informed and more powerful choices,” said Mike Gordon, Co-Chair of Sustainable Westchester.  “The success of Community Choice enables a transformative shift in the way we buy and use electricity, and soon energy, in New York. As the program goes forward, consumers will also benefit from savings attributed to peak demand reductions, local renewable energy generation and energy efficiencies.”

Bedford 2020, a Westchester-based environmental non-profit, is partnering with Sustainable Westchester to spread the word about the opportunity Westchester Smart Power represents to convert the county to renewable energy sources. According to Ellen Rouse Conrad, Co-President of Bedford 2020, “The choice to ‘opt up’ to 100% renewable energy is a game-changing opportunity for residents and small businesses in Westchester County. At long last, government has presented a viable solution for all consumers who care about clean energy, clean water and clean air.”

About Sustainable Westchester:

Sustainable Westchester is a membership organization with more than 85% of all Westchester municipalities participating, representing 800,000 county residents. The action group is designed to turn environmental challenges into opportunities to improve the quality of life, economy and future prospects of county citizens. For more information visit: www.sustainablewestchester.org.

About Bedford 2020:

Bedford 2020 is partnering with Sustainable Westchester to assist with education, outreach and implementation of the 100% “opt up” to renewable energy feature of Westchester Smart Power. Bedford 2020 is a non-profit organization leading a grass roots effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% by the year 2020 in the town ofBedford, NY and beyond. Since their formation in 2010, they have piloted projects that have subsequently been replicated throughout the region. Their focus is on energy efficiency, solar energy and renewable energy. In addition, they have community programs in four other areas: Food & Agriculture, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, and Water & Land Use. For more information visit: http://bedford2020.org/.

Bloom Energy to Install First Ever Highrise Fuel Cell at Morgan Stanley HQ

Morgan Stanley’s second project with Bloom Energy demonstrates how clean energy can be deployed in urban areas like Times Square

NEW YORK, Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Morgan Stanley today announced that Bloom Energy will install a fuel cell system at the Firm’s global headquarters in New York City’s Times Square neighborhood.  The fuel cell project at 1585 Broadway is expected to be fully operational in late 2016 and will provide approximately 750 kW of 24×7 high quality power to the Morgan Stanley building, equal to approximately 6 million kWh of clean electricity each year.

Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology converts fuel into electricity through a high efficiency non-combustion process that generates clean and reliable on-site power, reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses compared to traditionally generated and transmitted electricity.

“Morgan Stanley is committed to investing in technologies that minimize our impact on the environment,” said Chief Operating OfficerJim Rosenthal.  “Following on the success of our fuel cell installation in Purchase, NY, this project further exemplifies how we can improve the sustainability and resiliency of our facilities, while controlling costs and being responsible to our business, our shareholders and our planet.”

“The recent Paris Climate Accord calls on government and business leaders to reimagine the way we power the world, and this project in the heart of Manhattan demonstrates how clean distributed energy can be deployed onsite, even in urban areas,” said KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy.  “We applaud Morgan Stanley for their continued commitment to clean energy as well as Governor Cuomo’s administration and NYSERDA for their work to drive adoption of clean distributed generation.”

Support for this project was provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through a long-term renewable energy credit contract awarded under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Main Tier Program to develop renewable energy projects.

“Partnerships between the State and private sector have made New York a global leader in reducing greenhouse gases and advancing clean energy solutions, and will continue to play a vital role in transforming our energy system,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of NYSERDA said.  “This project is an example of how new and innovative technologies will help us achieve Governor Cuomo’s vision of an energy system that is cleaner, more resilient and more affordable for all New Yorkers.”

Bloom Energy currently has over 200 projects across the United States and in Japan, including ten operating projects in New York State.

About Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly efficient onsite power from multiple fuel sources.  Founded in 2001 with a mission to make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world, Bloom Energy Servers are currently producing power for many Fortune 500 companies including Apple, Google, Wal-Mart, AT&T, eBay, Staples, The Coca-Cola Company, as well as notable non-profit organizations such as Caltech and Kaiser Permanente. Also, with its Mission Critical Systems practice, Bloom Energy provides grid-independent power for critical loads in data centers and manufacturing.  The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.  For more information, visit www.bloomenergy.com.

About Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services.  With offices in more than 43 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.  For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visitwww.morganstanley.com.

SOURCE Bloom Energy

 

Rapid demand growth predicted for distributed generation technologies

Investment in on-site power technologies is projected to reach over $155 billion through 2023, up from $1.8 billion today, new analysis has found.

According to Navigant Research’s latest microgrid study, the global market for ‘microgrid enabling technologies’ such as diesel generators, natural gas-fueled generators, fuel cells, combined heat and power (CHP), solar photovoltaics (PV), distributed wind power, micro-hydropower, biomass, smart islanding inverters and energy storage will see rapid demand growth over the next several years.

‘Dramatic change is occurring in the microgrid market, as the economic value that these systems bring to the overall power grid becomes more and more apparent,’ said Peter Asmus, Navigant’s principal research analyst and report lead. ‘We expect the technologies that enable these systems to play key roles in the expansion of the microgrid sector to encompass additional technologies and services related to smart buildings, demand response, distribution and substation automation, and smart meters.’

According to the report, while Europe currently leads the market for microgrid-enabling distributed generation technology with a 40% market share and $714.2 million in revenue, by 2023 North America will take the lead, pulling in $4.9 billion, up from around $600 million in 2014.

Among the technologies, energy storage is projected to represent the single largest investment category among microgrid-enabling options by 2023.

via Rapid demand growth predicted for distributed generation technologies – Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production.

NYSERDA is Expanding its Solar Hot Water Program Statewide

5 Key Proposals for New York’s Electric Grid

Greentech Media

.Jeff St. John

September 9, 2014

New York’s Public Service Commission has provided some of the first details of how it plans to transform the state’s electric grid and energy markets, with proposals to turn the state’s utilities into distributed system platform providers, identify use cases for replacing grid upgrades with distributed generation, and create open markets for third-party competition.

Those are some of the highlights of the straw proposal (PDF) for New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, released late last month. The 81-page report is the first big step in a process launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April to create distribution grid planning, utility ratemaking and competitive energy markets that brings distributed energy resources to the forefront.

The REV process calls for turning the state’s utilities into “distribution system platform providers” (DSPPs), able to track, trade and forecast assets like rooftop solar PV, customer-sited cogeneration and CHP systems, demand response and energy efficiency, behind-the-meter energy storage, and other grid edge systems — many of them outside utility control.

Much like California, New York is tackling both the way the distribution grid is operated from day to day and how investments in it will be allocated for decades to come. (I will be leading a discussion with Tony Brunello, executive director of the Greentech Leadership Group, and Patty Durand, executive director of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, about the grid and consumer implications of these kinds of broad policy and economic restructurings at tomorrow’s Soft Grid 2014 conference in Menlo Park, California.)

Here are the key things to know about the new proposal, which is now open for public comment, in terms of what it’s asking utilities to do as soon as possible, and what it’s envisioning for the next steps.

1) Find savings through “no regrets” distributed investments. PSC staff identified a number of “near-term ‘no regrets’ actions to be immediately implemented” by utilities, starting with a calculation of what portion of the state’s $30 billion in planned transmission and distribution system upgrades over the next ten years might be deferred through distributed energy resources, both utility-controlled and customer-owned.

“Based on capital plans filed with the Commission, each utility should determine and indicate which of the most significant capital projects are likely candidates for deferral or avoidance through the procurement of DER alternatives. This proposal should include a plan for a competitive DER procurement process and for making available customer usage data sufficient to allow potential DER providers to effectively participate and offer viable solutions.”

We’ve already seen New York utilities propose capital projects with distributed resources. Con Ed wants permission to invest about $500 million in customer load management and grid upgrades to defer $1 billion in substation repairs, and Central Hudson Gas & Electric filed a $46 million plan with the PSC that includes community solar, demand response and a “microgrid as a service” program.

Expect more of these types of filings if this straw proposal makes it into the REV rules. As Cameron Brooks, president of E9 Insights and former vice president of policy at Tendril Networks, noted in an interview last week, “One of the central things they’re trying to do [in New York] is reorient their entire regulatory structure, so that distributed energy resources will be made the core of their operating portfolio going forward.”

2) Transition demand-side resources to the distribution grid. Most of today’s energy efficiency and demand response programs aren’t fine-tuned enough to serve the localized needs being identified in the New York REV process. But truly smart, networked efficiency and DR could be an important part of the grid edge landscape, giving utilities the ability to modify load on a system-wide or pinpoint scale.

The new straw proposal jump-starts that process by asking utilities to file an Efficiency Transition Implementation Plan laying out how they’re going to “optimize and monitor their energy efficiency portfolio in support of improved system efficiency and operation.” That’s something traditional light bulb giveaways and appliance rebate-type programs don’t do, and it will require a lot of data collection and verification.

Each utility will also be asked to file new demand response tariffs, “including tariffs for storage and energy efficiency” — again, these are nontraditional assets that need new models to fit into grid operations and planning. As Brooks put it, the end process is meant to challenge “one of the core assumptions embedded in the regulatory framework in most states — that demand is inelastic.”

3) Get customers and third parties online for the distributed energy future. Another “no regrets” line item calls for the state’s utilities to  “jointly design and develop web-based tools to enable customers to shop for, and purchase, DER and other energy-related value-added services.” PSC staff hopes that this platform can help consumers:

• Understand what distributed energy products, renewable energy products, home/business energy management products, and commodity services are available

• Filter and sort available products according to different criteria, including price

• Learn more about products and services that they’re interested in

• Easily comparison-shop and make informed purchase decisions

Likewise, energy services companies (ESCOs) that sell commodity energy to retail customers should have a chance to participate. The straw proposal calls for the PSC to “adopt measures enabling ESCOs to provide value-added service, as well as measures holding ESCOs to certification standards” for getting into this marketplace.

4) Build distribution system platforms (DSP) from the utilities on up. As one of its “transitional steps,” the straw proposal lays out just what it envisions for the DSP functions it’s asking the state’s utilities to provide. And while it wants to open this platform up to multiple parties, it isn’t yet asking utilities to give up control of the core operations features that such a platform entails.

“Each utility should be required to file a Distributed System Implementation Plan (DSIP) that lays out its investment plans over a five-year period, including alternative demand and supply resource portfolios considered, its proposed resource portfolio, how it proposes to procure needed DERs,” the report states, along with a benefit-cost analysis for the whole thing.

As for what the end result should be, here’s a definition:

The DSP is an intelligent network platform that will provide safe, reliable and efficient electric services by integrating diverse resources to meet customers’ and society’s evolving needs. The DSP fosters broad market activity that monetizes system and social values, by enabling active customer and third-party engagement that is aligned with the wholesale market and bulk power system.

Former FERC Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff has suggested that New York should create an independent distribution systems operator (IDSO) to handle these tasks. The PSC’s straw proposal considers this, but finds that “the potential benefits of an independent DSP are countered by numerous drawbacks,” with lots of duplication of existing areas of utility expertise.

5) Competition is central to New York’s vision. Despite this reliance on utilities as DSP providers during the early stages, the PSC’s straw proposal makes clear that the state’s future energy structure needs to be a level playing field for new entrants. That includes calls for limits on how much distributed energy utilities can own on the system, as well as defining the terms according to which non-utility actors can participate.

“The Commission will maintain a critical oversight role in the market,” the proposal notes. “This will include establishing guidance and processes for market rule-making, approving investment plans and rate designs by regulated utilities, and reviewing the activities of ESCOs, third-party service providers, and utilities for compliance with market rules. The Commission’s oversight role will be most pronounced during the earlier transitional phases, as markets and market rules are developed and improved.”

Paul Alvarez, president of the utility consultancy Wired Group, notes that regulators, utilities and third-party providers will have a lot to talk over in this process. “How much do utilities get paid for doing this? How do you measure that, and translate those measurements into increased profits, while making sure you’re not making power too expensive? You don’t want to do things that reduce [utilities’] capacity to make money when they’re investing in all these projects. On the other hand, you don’t want them to make any windfall profits, and you want to allow third-party players to compete.”

TAGS: california, demand response, distributed energy, distributed resources, distribution grid, energy efficiency, energy market, energy storage, grid edge, new york, policy,regulators, smart grid, solar, utilities

Jeff St. John

Reporter covering the green technology space, with a particular focus on smart grid, demand response, energy storage, renewable energy and technology to integrate distributed, intermittent green energy into the grid.

NY REV is Reforming the Energy Vision

On April 24,2014 The NY Public State Commission unveiled its plans for an energy modernization initiative that will fundamentally transform the way electricity is distributed and used in New York State. This unprecedented effort is intended to create the power grid of the future and forever change the way New York consumers buy and use energy.

REV will encourage & reward consumers to use new technologies to control energy usage.

Our guide will show you how to benefit from this special initiative: