In an effort to reduce electricity demand and to increase the efficiency of transmission, the New York state energy regulator has approved a plan to help customers generate their own power with small distributed generating units.ALBANY, New York, US, 2001-11-14 [SolarAccess.com] “By making it easier for customers to generate their own electricity, we reduce the demands on the local utility system and improve the system’s efficiency,” says Public Service Commission chairman Maureen Helmer in approving the pilot scheme and related standby rate guidelines. In 1999, the PSC became one of the first utility regulatory agencies in the United States to adopt standardized procedures, including technical requirements, for connecting private DG units to a utility. The latest decisions are further moves toward easing the installation of DG as another energy choice for New York residents to consider in the developing competitive markets. Under the Distributed Generation Pilot Program, each of the six investor-owned electric utilities in the state will review their forecast power requirements for the coming three years and identify the needs, if any, that could be satisfied through the installation and operation of small distributed generation facilities. The utilities then will issue requests for proposals for customer-owned projects. The utilities could then award contracts for DG projects that can eliminate or reduce the need to expand their own distribution system facilities. Applicants must prove technical competence and financial stability, and comply with federal, state and local permitting processes, says NYPSC. Utilities and other interested parties will evaluate the success of the program at the end of 2003. In a related decision, PSC says a new protocol will allow the six investor-owned utilities to charge standby rates for self-generating customers who remain connected to their local power company’s distribution lines for backup power. The rates rely on a more cost-based approach to charging for distribution service than rates that currently apply to standby customers.