Con Ed obviously has big stakes in NYC’s energy consumption, but who else controls the energy industry in New York City?  According to the NYC Energy Task Force, in 2003, 98% of generation capacity within the city was provided by Reliant Resources,  NRG, KeySpan EnergyCon Ed and the New York Power Authority(NYPA).

Surprisingly, Con Ed owns only 6% of this generation capability and has contracts for only an additional 10%. Only the NYPA controls less, at 15%. It’s interesting to see that Con Ed, whose service to NYC dates back more than 180 years, own so little of the electricity generation in the city.

In fact, Con Ed used to own most all of the plants in the city. However, in 1999, thanks to a restructuring plan approved by the Public Service Commission, Con Ed was required to divest itself of at least 50% of its generation capacity. As a result, Con Ed sold several of its generation plants to NRG and KeySpan to for a total infusion of $1.1 billion . Nonetheless, Con Ed remains a huge provider and proudly claims to serve 3 million customers in NYC and Westchester County.

Nearly all of these power plants are powered using either oil or natural gas. Increasingly, because of its cleaner-burning capabilities, more and more plants are being switched over to burn exclusively natural gas. Well then who controls the gas supply?  NYC’s natural gas is supplied by pipelines owned by five different companies, but once it gets to the city, distribution is done through the facilities of only two companies: Con Edison and KeySpan, which have two separate distribution facilities. In addition to electricity and natural gas, Con Ed also owns the world’s largest steam system providing heating and cooling all over Manhattan.  Slightly more than half of the steam delivered through the system comes from a process known as “co-generation”. Co-generation turns otherwise wasted heat from generating electricity into a useful product (steam).

Currently, all of NYC’s big names in energy are focusing more and more on natural gas to meet the needs of NYC. However, a few are also making an effort to move in a sustainable direction. NRG is exploring a whole range of renewable energy resources throughout the rest of the country, and Con Ed is showing interest in the solar market.

Where do you get your energy from? Do you know about your provider’s environmental policy? Do you know where they get their gas and oil from? Whether you get your energy from natural gas, oil, nuclear or renewables, there are always ways to improve efficiency. Regardless of which company you choose, check out their website for tips on reducing your energy consumption (and bill!).

by Bekah Holloway