Speaking at a recent meeting of the Long Island Regional Planning Council, Long Island Power Authority Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone said that “flexibility” is the key to planning for the future energy supply needs of Long Island.
“We are in the planning business,” Falcone told council member at the meeting, held at Suffolk Community College’s Brentwood campus. Planning resources decades into the future requires LIPA to accurately project the status of many factors that continuously change, including peak load (demand) growth or decline, energy efficiency, and cost. In fact, those the criteria have changed significantly in the past decade; while LIPA can make assumptions, there will always uncertainty, requiring that LIPA have alternatives in its forecasting.
Peak load forecasts have been declining and are projected to continue declining, said Falcone, which requires LIPA to look more closely at how much capacity (the projection of peak load need) it requires. Increases in efficiency, self-generation of energy (such as solar roof installations) by homeowners, businesses and institutions, and the drop in the cost of “clean” solar and wind energy are key factors.
Falcone said that LIPA’s major investments in “reliability and resiliency” have resulted in it being recognized as the “most improved” utility in the nation by J.D.Power, which develops rankings based on annual customer perceptions surveys that it conducts.
LIPA has also developed financial models that have led Moody’s rating service to note that LIPA has shown “positive momentum” in reducing debt, said Falcone, who served as the utility’s former Chief Financial Officer.
Falcone pointed out that the large legacy baseload plants that once supplied the bulk of Long Island’s electricity now represent 40 percent of the region’s capacity but only generate 21 percent of actual energy demand.