There is so much community excitement and commitment to 100% renewable energy in Rochester. As the Senior RPU Board Member, I thought I would take a minute to point out many of the discussions that are going on and how they contribute to achieving “100%.” The council passed a resolution for a 2035 plan, while the RPU Board is driving for 2030 solution.
What is 100%? – You can accomplish anything with enough sacrifices and at a high enough price. When we talk about “100%” what we are really talking about is 100% clean, equitable, sustainable, reliable, and affordable energy. Because we care about equity, reliability and affordability this will make 100% both more challenging and more beneficial.
Conservation First – Conservation has been and still is the cleanest most affordable path to sustainability. Through RPUs Conserve & Save Program both money spent and greenhouse gas emissions have been greatly reduced. Both at the State and Utility level we are exploring how to make the program even better.
Infrastructure Plan – Until 2030 our power supply is largely controlled by SMMPA. After this contract expires we will control where our power comes from. While that seems like a long time away we need to start planning right now. On July 23, the RPU Board will see several options to meet our demand for power post 2030. Some of them will allow us to achieve 100%. Some time after that the RPU Board and City Council will decide on a path forward.
Rate Structure – We understand, particularly with residential rates, that high flat customer charges are a disincentive to conserve. All users really benefit to the system and there are some flat costs that should be shared. However in 2019, RPU has created a rates subcommittee to look at what should be included in that flat customer charge. It is my personal goal to lower this fee by more than $100 per year per account. Additionally we are considering strategies like smart grid, time of day pricing, real time pricing, block rates to promote conservation and smart usage.
Demand Side Management – Most forms of renewable energy has peaks and valleys, the better we can use less energy in the valleys and more at the peaks the more we can use and the better price we can get. This is called Demand Side Management. Below is a link to 1 of 3 “White Papers” prepared for RPU. This describes what RPU is doing now and can do in the future. Voluntary smart meters, EV charging controls, and “time of day rates” can make a huge difference at a low cost.
Energy Storage – This is the holy grail of Clean Energy. Save energy when its abundant, use the stored energy when it is not. The problem is that the technology is not yet there. If we needed this for a solution today, it wouldn’t work. HOWEVER, the technology is advancing rapidly and if you factor in the pace of improvements it is very likely that this could be a part of the solution by 2030.
Electrification – Frequently when we think about 100% we are thinking about electrical energy, sometimes forgetting that transportation and heating is often not done through electrical means. Even with today’s grid, as we electrify more heating and transportation we see net reduction in greenhouse gases. Factor in that petroleum and natural gas based fuels will always emit CO2, and the benefit of electrification becomes more clear.
Smart Grid – I am just going to leave this blank for now and ask my friend and Board Chair Brian Morgan to give me a blurb, as he is a leader on this topic.
All of these moving parts, merged into a single system means that in short order we can project our path to make Rochester 100% Clean Energy City. We owe it to future generations to be a leader in this field.