2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference

The 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference was held on February 22-24, 2017 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. It featured a keynote address from Ruth McCormick from the Business Center for Sustainable Energy and Jeff Conklin of J.D. Power and Associates, along with expert plenary speakers from across the country. The schedule was rounded out by breakout sessions, networking opportunities and the annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards.

Conference Recap


  • Download the conference program [pdf]

Final Attendee List

  • Download the list of MES 2017 attendees [xlsx]

Keynote Speakers

  • Ruth McCormick, Business Council for Sustainable Energy [pdf]
  • Jeff Conklin, J.D. Power and Associates [pdf]

Plenary Sessions

Energy Efficiency Inside the Beltway: What a New Administration and Congress Means For Our Industry

What does the election of President Trump mean for energy efficiency policies at the federal level? This session will discuss the potential impact on federal legislation and regulations and the corresponding impact on state activities.

  • Sue Gander, National Governors Associaton [pdf]
  • Heath Knakmuhs, US Chamber of Commerce [pdf]
  • Kelly Speakes-Backman, Alliance to Save Energy [pdf]
  • Moderator: Steve Nadel, ACEEE

The Midwest’s Changing Energy Efficiency Landscape: What is On the Horizon?

Recent actions by state legislatures in the Midwest have drastically changed energy efficiency policies in our region. This panel will discuss these legislative and regulatory actions and how they will impact our industry.

  • Valerie Brader, Michigan Agency for Energy [pdf]
  • Trish Demeter, Ohio Environmental Council [pdf]
  • Dave Kolata, Citizens Utility Board [pdf]
  • Moderator: Stacey Paradis, MEEA [pdf]

Industrial Users Fighting the Good Fight for Energy Efficiency

This plenary panel will feature short presentations and a roundtable discussion examining how manufacturers see the value of energy efficiency and achieve savings despite fluctuating statewide policies.

  • Evan van Hook, Honeywell International [pdf]
  • Sean West, United Technologies Corporation [pdf]
  • Edwin Willhite, Schneider Electric [pdf]
  • Moderator: John Nicol, Leidos Engineering

Our Industry is an Economic Generator: How Can We Use This Advantage to Support Diversity?

Energy efficiency is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Midwest that is supporting thousands of jobs and creating new businesses. Panelists will discuss their experience in our industry and the potential opportunities to promote diversity and economic expansion.

  • Darade Collins, Nicor Gas
  • Tammy Rempfer, Group O
  • Georgia Marsh, Women’s Business Development Center
  • Moderator: Danisha Hall, Illinois Commerce Commission

Breakout Sessions

Reaching the Hard to Reach: What Makes a Small Business Program Successful?

It can be difficult to engage small business owners to participate in energy efficiency programs. This panel
will look at various successful programs to discuss what sets them apart, the results they have seen and lessons learned.

  • Alison Jaworowski, DTE Energy [panel pdf]
  • Tom Pirone, Lime Energy
  • Selena Worster Walde, Nexant
  • Moderator: Mary Schlaefer, WECC

Bringing Home the Bacon: How Rural Cooperatives Can Deliver Energy Efficiency Benefits to Their Members

Utilities looking to deliver more energy efficiency benefits to rural customers have a wealth of new resources and innovative best practices to look to throughout the Midwest region. This session will feature leaders from cooperatives and rural utilities who are achieving new energy savings for this unique customer base.

  • Laura Matney, Wabash Valley Power Association [pdf]
  • Brian Sloboda, NRECA [pdf]
  • Chris Woolery, MACED [pdf]
  • Moderator: Scott Drake, East Kentucky Power Cooperative

Are IRPs Effective for Energy Efficiency? Short Answer: Yes, With an If; Long Answer: No, With a But

This panel will explore recommended planning techniques for the IRP process and necessary factors to be analyzed, including demand side management, reliability, fuel prices, supply options, load impacts, environmental impacts, public participation and fairness. Beyond best practices, presenters will discuss the caveats and limitations of spurring energy savings via IRPs.

  • Mike Bull, Center for Energy and Environment [pdf]
  • Michael Byrne, Michigan Agency for Energy [pdf]
  • Jeremy Petersen, Xcel Energy [pdf]
  • Moderator: Shawn White, Xcel Energy

Now You’re Speaking My Language: How Utilities Market Energy Efficiency to Different Audiences

Branding conveys a lot about an organization–its personality, its values, its priorities. But how can utilities integrate energy efficiency into the image they project? In this session, the marketing professionals from investorowned, municipal and cooperative utilities will share how energy efficiency supports and shapes their brand identities.

  • Meena Beyers, Nicor Gas [pdf]
  • Janet Rehberg, Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives [pdf]
  • Cara Shaefer, City Utilities of Springfield [pdf]
  • Moderator: Kelly Mulder, Nexant

A Tale of Three Cities

Across the Midwest, municipalities are deploying energy efficiency strategies such as energy codes, technology, community engagement and sustainability planning to build resilience. Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis will showcase the barriers and opportunities facing municipalities as they advance their energy leadership role.

  • Luke Hollenkamp, City of Minneapolis
  • Christopher Wheat, City of Chicago
  • Kimberly Winslow, Kansas City Power & Light
  • Moderator: Dan York, ACEEE

On the Rise: HVAC Efficiency Baselines

With the average efficiency of HVAC equipment continuing to increase, it is imperative for programs to be designed to capture optimal savings. This panel will discuss the HVAC market trends seen in the Midwest and what programs are doing to keep up.

  • Erin Buchanan, Cedar Falls Utilities [pdf]
  • Jim Fay, ComEd [pdf]
  • Dan Vida, D+R International [pdf]
  • Moderator: Kevin DeMaster, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating

Green Lighting LED Street Lights

Despite its value proposition, LED street lighting faced mounting challenges related to asset management, public perception and financing in 2016. Join our all-star team of myth busters and problem solvers as they help navigate to the promised land of energy savings, public benefit and future-ready smart city infrastructure.

  • Leslie Darling, Chicago Infrastructure Trust [pdf]
  • Crystal McDonald, U.S. Department of Energy [pdf]
  • Lisa Pucelik, WECC [pdf]
  • Moderator: Jon Williams, AEP Ohio

Apartment Therapy: Multifamily Energy Efficiency for Financial and Physical Health

Operating costs, tenant health and workforce development are driving multifamily building owners and residents to pursue energy efficiency improvements. With the significant energy savings potential, programs that leverage these motivations are key. Hear how utility and community health programs provide different approaches for building owners to pursue energy efficiency.

  • Nick Mark, CenterPoint Energy [pdf]
  • Ruth Ann Norton, Green & Healthy Homes Initative [pdf]
  • Brody Vance, Franklin Energy [pdf]
  • Moderator: Molly Lunn, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity

If These Buildings Could Talk: How Data and Technology Changes the Conversation about Building Efficiency

In the era of increased data access and improved building energy modeling and verification, commercial buildings have the potential to achieve deeper energy savings. This session will discuss how utilities and building owners are employing new technologies to improve program offerings and building performance in new and existing buildings.

  • Anna Darling, Alliant Energy [pdf]
  • Annie Gilleo, ACEEE [pdf]
  • Sandra Henry, Seventhwave [pdf]
  • Moderator: Mike Chimack, ICF International

The Dating Game: Finding Your Financing Match

Three contestants hoping to find love vie for the affection of one commercial retrofit project. Each contestant brings money and charm to the table through different financing options. Who will the eligible project pick? Through a game show format the audience will learn about financing options and their compatibility with energy efficiency project requirements.

  • Joel Freehling, CB&I [panel pdf]
  • Jeremy Kalin, Eutectics
  • Julie Padilla, Renovate America
  • Mary Templeton, Michigan Saves
  • Moderator: Nathan Baer, Staples Energy

Getting Smart: The New Frontier of Efficiency

Hear how data is enabling energy efficiency, demand response, advanced grid technologies and other distributed energy resources to come together to bring the industry to the next level.

  • Brian Bowen, FirstFuel Software [pdf]
  • Tyson Brown, Kansas City Power & Light [pdf]
  • Mark Gately, Tendril [pdf]
  • Moderator: Andy Burch, CLEAResult