ISO-NE/NYISO conference highlights progress, challenges on the horizon in the Northeast

Industry experts, regulatory leaders, market participants, and other electricity stakeholders came together last week to talk all things energy at the “Energy Synergy: Competition and Innovation” conference in New York City on November 1.

Hosted jointly by ISO New England and New York ISO, the conference was an effort to promote collaboration and continue meaningful conversations about progress in the region, emerging industry trends, and challenges that are facing the grid and wholesale markets.

Several themes were apparent throughout the day, including the influence that natural gas production and prices will have on power generation; the challenges of integrating large-scale renewable resources into the grid; the impact that federal and state environmental regulations will have on the generation fleet; and how best to empower consumers and innovators to be more active participants in managing their energy consumption.

The morning opened with speaker Garry Brown, Chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission, who talked about the impact that public policy is having on the fundamental make-up of today’s power grid. He cited environmental standards and the growth of renewable resources as two major factors that are influencing wholesale electricity markets, and suggested that market changes will likely be needed as technology evolves to ensure reliability into the future.

Next up was the symposium’s morning panel: “The Power of Innovation: Advancing Electric System Performance and Empowering Customers,” moderated by Consolidated Edison President and CEO Kevin Burke. Panelists representing a diverse group of viewpoints included Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America, Bill Capp, CEO of Beacon Power Corporation, Dan Delurey, Executive Director of Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition, and John Kelly, Executive Director of Galvin Electricity Initiative. Panelists focused on how competitive markets are attracting new technologies that will give consumers access to data to help them make more informed decisions about how and when they use electricity, and the role that government will play in the research and development of new technologies.

The afternoon panel focused on the successes and remaining obstacles to creating greater competition in US power markets, and was moderated by Anastasia Song, CEO of the Haughland Group. The panel featured Richard Doying, Vice President of Operations of the Midwest ISO, Paul Murphy, CEO of the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario, Andrew Ott, Senior Vice President at PJM Interconnection, Stephen Whitley, President and CEO of New York ISO, and Gordon van Welie, President and CEO of ISO New England.

Gordon van Welie noted that while competitive wholesale electricity markets have provided significant benefits, including new generation, demand resources, and much-needed transmission upgrades, changes in power system economics, technology, and regulatory policies are driving a transformation in the region’s power system. New England is striving to stay ahead of the curve by developing planning processes and market mechanisms that will procure the resources with the desired performance characteristics in the location where they are needed.

The featured keynote speaker was Paul Browning, President and CEO of GE Energy, who offered remarks about the growing natural gas and renewable energy industries. Browning discussed GE Energy’s efforts to develop technologies to capture the synergies between the flexibility of natural gas-fired generation and variability of wind generation. 

More than 300 people attended the conference, held at the Hilton New York, in New York City.

Inside ISO New England