If New York’s plan to overhaul its energy market is ever going to materialize, the state will need every stakeholder to get involved.

One of the most crucial tasks will be running the platform to connect customers, third-party energy providers and utilities for demonstration projects. And now the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is looking for a partner to run that platform, called REV Connect.

New York's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is an ambitious attempt to turn utilities into distributed system platform providers that will enable more distributed generation and demand flexibility.

The first REV demonstration projects are designed to test distributed energy deployment models and new ways to engage with customers. When they were announced last June, Richard Kauffman, New York’s chairman of energy and finance, was cautious about how quickly things would change in the state.

“Developing these projects is really hard work,” said Kauffman at the time. “The projects will get better and better.”

The harder work will be building increasingly sophisticated projects.

So who will help run the process? That's what the state is trying to figure out.

The organization running REV Connect will have to be respected by utilities and third parties, and have the technical expertise to evaluate projects. It will also have to understand the intricacies of the New York energy landscape, such as how utilities and other stakeholders can leverage available NYSERDA funding for efficiency or connect with the New York Power Authority’s AGILe Lab.

Any entity can apply for the two-year contract, according to NYSERDA, including innovation consultancies, business incubators, universities, trade associations and not-for-profit organizations associated with energy and innovation. The deadline to apply is March 10.

The entity will have to move quickly. While there is not a definite timeline for REV Connect to be fully functional, utilities are filing their distributed system implementation plans in June. The filings are the roadmaps for each utility’s transformation, including alternative demand and supply resource procurements and cost-benefit analysis.

REV Connect is expected to be a platform for utilities and vendors to test out some of the market-based earning mechanisms and other new business models that are proposed in the June filings. Eventually, however, it is the distribution utilities that are expected to run platforms that enable market transactions at the distribution level. 

The entity that runs REV Connect will provide assistance to utilities. It will help them develop rigorous experimental designs and evaluation criteria for projects, as well as functioning as a warehouse for best practices.

REV Connect is not just a channel to connect utilities to vendors. It will also be a place for communities or businesses interested in distributed energy or energy efficiency to find innovative companies that can meet their needs in the next few years.

Can New York meet its ambitious goals to transform the energy sector? Only if it finds the right partner.

Click here for more information on our upcoming New York REV Future 2016 conference. New York REV Future 2016 will bring together key stakeholders, technology providers, utilities and state policy makers to discuss actionable business strategies to operationalize the ongoing initiative for a clean, resilient and affordable system in New York.