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Educate, Relate, Communicate: The Critical Role of NYISO's External Affairs Department

February 3, 2022

As the energy grid is changing, so too is how we talk about it. 

We are in the midst of a fundamental and dramatic change in how New York gets its power. Some observers call it an almost complete redesign. We are moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable resources; away from large, centralized generators and toward smaller and more numerous power producers. As we make that shift, the discussion of how and why these changes are happening is more important than ever.

This is the role of the NYISO External Affairs department. It’s our job to explain the NYISO’s critical role in maintaining the reliability of the electric system; minimizing costs to consumers through market competition while greening the grid. 

The work the NYISO does operating the transmission system and New York’s competitive electric markets is complex. The members of External Affairs help explain that work to energy industry stakeholders, policymakers, environmentalists, environmental justice groups, consumer advocates, and the general public.

“The energy grid is seeing its biggest change in more than a century. We have a responsibility to tell the stories necessary and bring people together through that effort to help solve problems and collaborate on new ideas,” said Kevin Lanahan, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Communications. “That’s what we think about and work on every day in External Affairs.” 

There was a time when the energy business might have attracted little attention from the general public, so long as the lights stayed on. Today, the grid is front-page news as climate change and decarbonization become global issues and states like New York adopt strict renewable energy mandates.  

“As the grid changes and becomes more sophisticated, so too have the skills and the work we perform in External Affairs,” Lanahan said.  And as evidenced by the NYISO’s recent presence in major news stories by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg News, and other major media, we’re regarded for our expertise and innovative ideas, operating at the center of the important issues. 

So how do we tell that story? In External Affairs, it’s through a dedicated, creative and disciplined team that represents the organization to a variety of constituents and audiences: 

  • Stakeholder Services collaborates with NYISO’s market participants and stakeholders, including energy resource owners, transmission operators, and distribution companies, to support the information needs of the nearly 435 organizations participating in the NYISO’s wholesale electricity markets. The team acts as the primary point of contact for stakeholders and market participants for information on issues involving our markets, operations, and system planning.
  • Member Relations supports the various committees that make up our shared governance process. The team works with stakeholders representing utilities, suppliers, environmental advocates, environmental justice advocates, and consumer interests, to support effective collaboration on the NYISO’s market rules, operations, and planning efforts. 
  • Regulatory Affairs engages with state and federal regulators, as well as the reliability organizations that govern how the energy grid and markets are managed. The team also produces the NYISO’s flagship publication, Power Trends, which has been recognized by lawmakers and policymakers as a “must read” and the preeminent source of information on the changing grid.
  • Corporate Communications gets our message to those in the outside world who need to understand how the energy grid works. Communications works closely with the NYISO’s team of experts to explain and report on the challenges and opportunities of a grid in transition. The team creates content on the company’s website, including blogs and videos, podcasts, social media, and data sheets -- all of which help to tell NYISO’s story and convey need-to-know information. 
  • Media Relations builds relationships with major media organizations, writes press releases, and provides key updates to reporters to educate the media on the NYISO’s mission and distill our expert reports and planning documents. 

External Affairs fulfills a vital role in supporting the work of the NYISO by serving as the authoritative source of information on New York’s grid of the future for the many outside entities that together make the energy grid function. As we move forward to deliver a cleaner grid, this work has never been more important. 

Interested in working for this powerful team? Positions in External Affairs and many other areas in NYISO are currently available here

We are an independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for operating the state’s bulk electricity grid, administering New York’s competitive wholesale electricity markets, conducting comprehensive long-term planning for the state’s electric power system, and advancing the technological infrastructure of the electric system serving the Empire State.