Report: New York Gov. Cuomo taps NYSERDA CEO John Rhodes to chair PSC

Dive Brief:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will nominate John Rhodes, CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to head the New York Public Service Commission, Politico NY reports.
  • Rhodes would fill the seat vacated by former PSC Chairman Audrey Zibelman, who left to head one of Australia's grid operators earlier this year. 
  • Zibelman's departure opened three vacant seats on the PSC, leaving the commission without a quorum for regulatory decisions. Commissioner Patrica Acampora also stepped down in February

Dive Insight:

The shakeup at the New York PSC comes in the middle of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), its ambitious proceeding to remake the utility business model and support the development of distributed resources.  

Zibelman's exit in February came as the state's utilities move toward implementation of the docket's aims, including new distribution planning procedures and pilot projects to test DER operations and value propositions. 

The end goal, Zibelman told Utility Dive before her exit, is to develop real-time electricity markets on the distribution system — a “prices-to-devices” platform where “resources will respond to the prices, and there could be like a blockchain-type platform that could price it out.”

Finding a new lead regulator to help utilities deliver on that vision was always a tall ask, but in Rhodes, Cuomo has a familiar figure with intimate knowledge of the contours of the New York power sector. 

In 2013, Cuomo appointed Rhodes to head NYSERDA, a year before REV was announced. Before NYSERDA, Rhodes directed the Center for Market Innovation at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and acted as chief operating officer for Good Energies, a firm focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Founded in 1975, NYSERDA finances research, development and adoption of renewable energy and efficiency with the aim "to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate economic growth and reduce customer bills." The agency has acted as a funding source for REV initiatives, recently shelling out $11 million for microgrid projects and making $15 million available last week for energy storage facilities. 

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