Welcome to the first East Coast Edition – a weekly column bringing the latest news and developments in smart energy in the East Coast region of the U.S.

With the seat of government and cities such as the iconic New York, the East Coast is a high visibility region in the increasingly smart energy world. In the last FERC survey of AMI the region’s penetration was above the national average and ongoing rollouts subsequently will have ensured that it remains a leader – an achievement all the more noteworthy given that more than half of the nation’s states fall within the region, at least as defined by the reliability councils.

New York has also put itself at the forefront of the smart energy movement with its PlaNYC 2030, which was launched in April 2007 setting out a strategy for a sustainable future for the city. Focussed on the five key dimensions of the city’s environment – land, air, water, transportation and energy – the goals in the energy dimension of the plan are to improve energy planning, reduce energy consumption, expand clean power supply and modernize the electricity delivery infrastructure. And of the 24 initiatives being undertaken towards these goals, six have been completed and fifteen are on schedule, with only two having been delayed and one redirected, according to the latest PlaNYC progress report.

Among the highlights the NYC Energy Planning Board has been launched to coordinate planning to meet the city’s energy supply and demand needs, and 64 responses were received to the city’s renewable energy request for expressions of interest. In addition progress has been made in almost every building sector that was targeted in PlaNYC – institutions, the private sector, existing and new buildings, and the city’s own facilities, and for example 224 energy efficiency projects have been begun on city government buildings, while recommendations for green building codes are expected to be released shortly.

In the area of modernizing the electricity delivery infrastructure, New York metropolitan utility Consolidated Edison has completed 267 recommendations to improve reliability since the Long Island City blackout in 2006. Among these are a new substation in Long Island City that will be able to manage load more efficiently. Most recently the company launched a $6 million smart grid pilot program in the broader Queens area, which will test how various technologies, including smart meters, solar energy and plug-in vehicles, support efforts to modernize the electric grid and help customers to use energy more efficiently and save on their electricity bills.

Con Edison has also filed the first phase of its applications for smart grid stimulus funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), requesting approximately $172 million to broaden the scope of its smart grid efforts as well as those of Orange and Rockland Utilities. Later this month, the company expects to submit applications requesting another $33 million in federal funding for smart grid projects.

These projects, along with the smart grid projects of other New York utilities National Grid, Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation, New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, and Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation, have been pre-approved by the New York PSC, subject to the awarding of the stimulus funding.

The importance of all these initiatives in contributing to New York’s future was highlighted once again recently, with a study by the Energy Committee of the New York Building Congress finding that New York city will need between 6,000 to 7,000 MW of new electricity resources over the next twenty years to satisfy the demands of the comprehensive residential and commercial development proposed citywide, and to support continued economic growth and increasing population.

“New York City will not be able to assure its competitive position and achieve projected growth without new electric generation capacity, transmission and distributed resources. A robust and reliable energy infrastructure is essential for the future economic well being of the city,” said the report.