The average Midwesterner pays 65% more for electricity than they did at the turn of the millennium. Saving energy is a key way to help lower customer bills even with rising rates. Utility Consumer Advocates (UCAs) represent residential customers before regulators and legislatures, and they use their expertise to help ensure ratepayer dollars are spent prudently and cost-effectively.
Improving energy performance in buildings is a key strategy for the City of Chicago, which has committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. This includes a 26-28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025; the city is currently 40% of the way to meeting that goal. Because the energy used in buildings accounts for over 70% of the city’s current greenhouse gas emissions, reducing building energy use is essential to meeting this goal.
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 July 12, Lincoln Nebraska Mayor Chris Beutler released a draft environmental plan highlighting opportunities for the city and residents to meet their sustainability goals. Building on the city’s 2009 Cleaner Greener Lincoln Initiative, this new action plan outlines the city’s progress in five categories—Energy, Land Use, Transportation, Waste and Water – and recommends strategies to make Lincoln a leader in environmental stewardship.
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.
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.
A year ago, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) – a federal rule aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil-fuel burning power plants – was in peak health. The rule had been finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Several states were on their way to preparing their initial plans for complying with the CPP. The EPA had begun gathering public input on draft documents that would supplement the rule, including the Clean Energy Incentive Program, Model Trading Rules and Evaluation, Measurement and Verification (EM&V) Guidance for Demand-Side Energy Efficiency. Despite the chill of winter, there was no lack of CPP-activity.
What a difference a year can make!
On December 21, Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, along with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress released the Iowa Energy Plan. The plan will serve as a guide for the development of an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system within the state that maximizes Iowa’s economic potential.