As more and more distributed resources come onto the grid, we are coming full circle back to something that looks more like Edison’s original distributed energy system, after a century of Samuel Insull’s centralized model. Besides changes in how energy is generated, the way it is used is also changing, with energy customers becoming active participants rather than just passive consumers. The interoperability of all of the devices on the grid is essential to keeping up with the changing needs of customers and energy markets.
Nationwide, over 16 million households struggle to meet their heating, cooling and other energy needs, but energy efficiency is increasingly recognized as a potential solution to this problem. In 2018, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri began holding income qualified energy efficiency stakeholder collaboratives to strengthen program design and delivery for these communities. Throughout the Midwest, decision makers across the political spectrum recognize the value of low-income energy efficiency in helping families afford their basic energy needs.
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.
Earlier this month, Midwest Energy News released its annual 40 Under 40, which “highlights emerging leaders through the region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy.” Included in this auspicious list was MEEA Senior Policy Associate Julia Friedman. Julia is an invaluable member of the MEEA team and the EE industry, advocating for state-level energy efficiency policies and fostering crucial relationships between governments, utilities and other stakeholders.
Midwest Energy News also honored several MEEA members including:
October 16-20 is “Careers in Energy Week” for the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner has recognized that a strong and diverse energy workforce is critical to support the large demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy to support Illinois families, communities and businesses. Energy efficiency is a key component to ensure affordability and reliability for years to come.
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.
On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.