This year's Midwest Energy Solutions Conference (MES) incorporated interactive workshops into its agenda for the first time ever, and one of the three workshops focused on Net Zero Energy (NZE) in the Midwest. MEEA staff wanted attendees to consider what Net Zero Energy means for energy efficiency (EE) in the Midwest specifically. (For the purposes of the workshop, “NZE” was referring to any building, development or community that does not use more energy than it produces. See DOE’s NZE definitions).
Building efficiency experts from around the Midwest convened in Ann Arbor, MI on November 15-16 for the 8th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference. This was the first time this conference was hosted in Michigan, which helped MEEA and attendees understand the unique challenges to the Michigan building community and provided critical local perspectives to better inform future building energy code policy. In past years, MEEA had the opportunity to host this conference and learn from local groups in Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois.
Industrial energy efficiency is losing ground in the Midwest. Though it’s one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures, states are increasingly allowing industrial customers to opt-out of paying into energy efficiency programs or exempting them from doing so altogether. As a result, overall energy savings and the cost-effectiveness of EE programs are on the edge of decline.
Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing is off and running in the Midwest. PACE enables homeowners and commercial building owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through a special assessment on their property that is paid back through their tax bill. To date, there are 15 active PACE programs in the MEEA footprint. PACE-enabling legislation exists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Nebraska, and legislation in Illinois has passed both state legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
"Using energy efficiency as an energy resource" similar to supply-side resources is a phrase often repeated by those working in the efficiency industry. That sounds good, but how exactly do we capture the value of energy efficiency? And what policy and regulatory practices are used to do this? Three regulatory constructs are at the forefront of the answer to these questions: cost-effectiveness tests, integrated resource planning (IRP) and technical reference manuals (TRMs). As with many great meetings of the minds, MEEA members congregated in Rosemont, Illinois on June 15 to explore these questions and topics in a workshop titled “Valuing Energy Efficiency.”
Each year, the members, board and staff of MEEA meet to celebrate the past year’s successes, elect the Board of Directors, swap best practices (and business cards) and discuss industry trends and MEEA’s roles therein.
This year, we gathered June 8-9 in St. Louis—just a stone’s throw away from the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium—with a focus on upcoming political elections and treating energy efficiency as a supply-side resource. We were also pleased to unveil MEEA’s new logo and Annual Report.
Every summer, MEEA members come together for the Annual Meeting of the Membership. The Annual Meeting is a time for members to elect MEEA’s Board of Directors and hear reports about the organization’s priorities and updates from the past year. With panels and sector-specific breakout sessions, the Annual Meeting is an invaluable opportunity for members to connect, learn about trends and strengthen the Midwest energy efficiency community.
This year’s Annual Meeting, held June 11thin Minneapolis, emphasized the culture of innovation sweeping the industry, from new products and services to creative funding models to smart regulation that fosters growth.
On April 29, MEEA held a Legislative Breakfast event at Café Moxo in downtown Springfield, IL. The breakfast, attended by around 40 participants, including several state legislators, showcased businesses and organizations implementing energy efficiency programs, highlighting in particular the economic benefit derived directly from such programs.
Jacob Preciado, the Construction Manager at the Archdiocese of Chicago, explained that in some of their churches the boilers are over 100 years old. Because the parishes all have to self-finance these improvements with a limited budget, utility rebates were vital for making upgrades possible.