MEEA's History — Over a Decade of Energy Efficiency
MEEA began to take shape in 1997, as an outgrowth of a US Department of Energy grant that led to a 1998 Midwest market transformation workshop and subsequent follow-up meetings. In its nascent years, MEEA was an informal collaboration between like-minded organizations (federal agencies, state offices, environmental non-profits and utilities and energy contractors), working across state boundaries to develop market transformation opportunities, leverage regional funding resources, bring strategic partners together, and form broad-based coalitions to improve market conditions for energy efficiency. MEEA held its first official event, an ENERGY STAR® workshop, in December 1999, in Madison, WI.
Early Growth – 2000-2005
MEEA filed its Articles of Incorporation and was incorporated in the State of Illinois on March 22, 2000. Founding Members of MEEA included the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Commonwealth Edison, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Gas Research Institute, ICF Consulting, Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (now the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity), Minnesota Department of Commerce, Missouri Energy Center, Ohio Energy Office, University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center, Wisconsin Energy Bureau, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, and Xcel Energy.
MEEA hired its first Executive Director in July 2000, and received 501(c)(3) status on January 31, 2001, with the formation of MEEA's first Board of Directors later that year. In 2001, MEEA hosted in MEEA's first conference, held in Chicago in May, titled "The Role of Energy Efficiency in Addressing System Reliability in the Midwest" and launched MEEA's first energy efficiency program, a compact fluorescent lamp promotion in conjunction with the US EPA's Change a Light, Change the World campaign.
In 2002-2003, MEEA expanded its program offerings to include a refrigerator rebate and recycling program and an ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washer rebate program. MEEA also began administering the Building Operator Certification® program, developed by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC). MEEA held our second conference in September 2002 entitled, "A New Generation of Buildings." In 2003, MEEA continued with our program expansion and we began our initial policy outreach effort through ENERGY STAR® Expos held in 3 Midwest state capitols.
In 2004, MEEA continued to grow and expand its program offerings, adding new sponsors and members. MEEA's Board approved a set of guiding policy goals: to raise awareness among policymakers of the importance and benefits of energy efficiency policies, funding, and programs; to increase energy efficiency program funding in the Midwest; and to increase the adoption, implementation, and enforcement of commercial and residential energy codes in the Midwest. MEEA continues to focus our policy activities around these 3 core principles.
In 2005, MEEA held its 3rd annual Midwest Energy Solutions conference "Efficiency Policy, Programs, and Regional Planning," as well as our 1st annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards to recognize all of the outstanding achievements by Midwest organizations and companies in the areas of impact, innovation, education, marketing, and leadership.
Expansion – 2006-2010
MEEA expanded its programs in 2006 to include MEEA's code training program entitled Midwest Building Solutions, the launch of our room AC turn-in events, and the kick-off of a multi-year, multi-million dollar residential lighting initiative for the Northern Illinois Energy Project. Our organization continued to grow buidling these new progams while also managing the existing programs. Policy efforts grew with the launch of the Midwest Natural Gas Initiative and involvement with the regional policy organization, RE-AMP. The 4th Midwest Energy Solutions Conference "Regional Policy, Pricing, and Priorities" was held in 2006 which included the 2nd annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards. In response to the federal tax incentives for energy-efficient products and technologies, MEEA held a series of workshops educating business and consumers on the available incentives throughout 2006.
MEEA spent 2007 continuing to grow programs and expand our offerings and staff. Policy efforts continued unabated and included advocating for energy codes and portfolio standards in several states. The 5th Midwest Energy Solutions "Empowerment" was held, and the 3rd Inspiring Efficiency Awards, as well as more tax incentive workshops, Energy Expos, and a series of Thought Leadership Roundtable discussions.
In 2008, MEEA underwent some staff restructuring and expansion as we transitioned to a new Executive Director, expanded our programs to more states (13 in total) and sponsors, and participated in regional and national policy efforts including the Midwestern Governors Association and the '30% Solution" effort to increase the stringency of national model energy codes. The 6th Midwest Energy Solutions "Leading the Way" was held, and the 4th annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards.
2009 has continued to be a growth year, with the final year of our Change a Light CFL program and development of our Midwest LEDers solid state lighting program, the launch of HVAC training programs and the PEEC Network of energy efficiency contractors. Policy activities have included support for portfolio standards and building codes in a growing number of states, continued regional and national advocacy, and a role in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) activities within our states. The 7th Midwest Energy Solutions "Delivering Progress" and 5th annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards saw our highest ever attendance, and we also participated in the ArchSSL solid state lighting conference, held Energy Expos and Thought Leadership Roundtables, and our membership grew to over 100 organizations.
In 2010, MEEA celebrated its 10-year anniversary as an organization and released a report "
10 Years of Impact" that summarizes the organization's achievements over its first decade.
Continuing to Grow Energy Efficiency in the Midwest
MEEA's history has been one of growth and change, of successes and defeats, but overall one of tremendous progress for energy efficiency in the Midwest. We have the highest regard for our members who have been with us for this whole journey and the new ones that have joined along the way. All of the staff members, board members, allies, program participants, and sponsors who have been part of MEEA throughout our history have made MEEA the strong organization that it is today, and we look forward to continuing to engage you in the cause of Midwestern energy efficiency over our next decade!