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.
"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.”
On June 16, MEEA hosted its annual Meeting of the Membership in Rosemont, Illinois just a few miles outside of Chicago. This event was another opportunity for MEEA's members, board and staff to come together to see old friends, make new connections and discuss what’s new in the field of energy efficiency. New board members were elected, and the latest Annual Report was unveiled. It was also a great venue for MEEA to get feedback on what we can do to add value to and improve the member experience.
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.