Darth VDER is cheating NYers
Did you know that a recent decision by New York State energy regulators means that 32 percent of all New York City residents are not treated equally when it comes to accessing renewable energy as compared to other New York state residents? This affects all of us who do not pay our energy bills directly to Con Ed, including everyone living at Stuy Town, Waterside and most people living in large multifamily buildings, even though we pay the same amount as the other 68 percent of New York state residents to fund the state’s clean energy programs.
For most of us in New York City, remote renewable energy – also known as community distributed generation (CDG) – is the only option we have if we want to purchase clean renewables energy. Recently the Public Service Commission – a board of utility regulators appointed by Governor Cuomo – changed the rules for valuing clean energy generated at locations remote to where is consumed.
This new method, called VDER (Value of Distributed Energy Resources), applies to solar, wind and hydro-electric generation and is intended to succeed the current net meter value methodology. VDER differentiates between those of who pay their Con Ed bill directly to Con Ed, known as Direct Metered and those that do not, known as Master Metered or Master/Submetered, crediting Direct Metered residents almost 50 percent more value. It’s not fair.
In New York City, the number of people disenfranchised by VDER is estimated to be 32 percent of NYC residents and 15 percent of NY state residents, or 2.75 million people. We are disenfranchised because we pay the same per kWh charges to support clean energy programs as direct metered customers, but do not share equally in access to these programs.
The complicated details are these: The VDER formula for determining how much customers receive on their bills when they participate in community solar has a number of components. One of the biggest is called a “market transition credit (MTC).” In New York City, the MTC component represents about 50 percent of the value for remotely generated electricity. But Master Metered customers cannot receive the MTC, and so for us, using in renewable energy sources is not as cheap as using existing dirty energy produced by fossil fuels. So even though we may philosophically support efforts to address climate change, in most cases people will vote their pocketbooks.
VDER has additional significant design and implementation flaws that have led to a serious contraction in NY’s solar market. VDER also has a high degree of uncertainty, which makes it virtually impossible to calculate a cost benefit analysis for customers.
Because of its devastating effects in the NYC solar market the VDER tariff has come to be known as “Darth VDER.” There is currently a bill moving in the New York State legislature, the “Fix Darth VDER” bill (A.10474/S.8273) that calls for a pause in the implementation of VDER and directs the Public Services Commission to fix specific flaws in the current VDER methodology. If you want all New Yorkers to have equal access to clean renewable energy sources, please contact your state senators and state Assembly Members and ask them to vote in favor of the “Fix Darth VDER” bill (A.10474/S.8273).
Waterside Tenants Association president
A closer look at park conservancies
Re: “Garodnick now head of the Riverside Park Conservancy,” T&V, May 17
Dan Garodnick’s recent appointment to head the Riverside Park Conservancy should provoke us to consider what these conservancies, which many of NYC’s larger parks now have, do to our public assets. On the surface, they appear to be a means to enhance and improve the parks for the residents of the city. What they really represent are a partial privatization of parks.
Instead of spending money from the public treasury to maintain the parks, we let wealthy individuals and corporations donate money for the purpose and then laud them for what wonderful benefactors they are, while at the same time they donate to campaigns of politicians in order to influence them to prevent any tax increases on themselves. Tax increases that could probably more than pay for the proper maintenance of parks. But rather than do that our elected representatives create conservancies and reduce real public control of the parks.
There is another aspect of these conservancies that is seldom spoken about. The employees of these conservancies do work that would normally be Parks Department employees. They do not belong to a union and receive less pay and benefits than Parks Department employees, thus contributing to an ever-growing wealth and income gap occurring in our city and in our country, a gap that our mayor claims he wants narrow.
Before any more of these entities are created, we should seriously examine what effects the current ones have on our city.
Blair F. Bertaccini