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.
As a membership organization that includes utilities, businesses, advocates and government agencies, MEEA knows the power of collaboration. Time and again, we’ve seen first-hand that when diverse groups sit down at the table together, we’re able to harness our collective expertise and experience to find solutions that work for everyone.
And we’re not the only ones who think collaboration is a powerful tool. Several states in the Midwest currently convene collaborative groups to promote energy efficiency.
For the last century, utilities that provided safe, reliable and affordable service could be reasonably assured of their continued profitability as long as the demand for electricity continued climbing and competing outside pressures were minimized. However, in recent years, the model of hitching profits to increased infrastructure investment and greater sales is proving unsustainable in the long-term. Distributed energy resources and improved efficiency technologies are displacing increasing parts of the utility service, taking some of the revenues that go with it.
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.
On June 6, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a new report on the increased health and economic costs that would result from an expanded industrial opt-out policy in the state. ACEEE found that expanded opt-out would cost Ohio residents billions of dollars due to higher electricity rates, increased utility system costs and medical expenses from increased air pollution.
Net-zero energy (NZE)buildings come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in every climate zone. The Midwest is home to many NZE buildings, and public buildings are helping to lead the way.
The New Buildings Institute compiled the 2016 List of Zero Net Energy Buildings report, which lists the current net-zero energy buildings across the country. Below are a few Midwestern NZE public buildings discussed on a recent MEEA policy webinar.*
The MEEA Codes team took their talents to Cleveland, OH where they held the 7th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference from November 15 -16, 2016. This event was a success with two productive days of networking and discussion among a diverse group of building efficiency professionals in the Midwest (and some from the coasts). Building professionals were represented from Federal, State and Local Energy Offices, Federal National Laboratories, Consulting Agencies, Non-Profits, and Code Enforcement Agencies. MEEA invited experts from across the Midwest and Nation to discuss timely topics related to building energy code adoption, compliance and enforcement – these are described below.
November 2015 marked the final month for an innovative pilot conducted by MEEA in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, AEP Ohio, Dayton Power and Light (DP&L), several Ohio commercial product distributors and other groups. The six-month pilot was designed to test a novel incentive program model aimed at distributors of v-belts, a common piece of equipment used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) applications. Cogged v-belts (also known as notched v-belts) are about three percent more efficient at power transmission than smooth v-belts and are commonly recommended to replace smooth v-belts in industrial and commercial energy audits.