More than 60 attendees at the 2020 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference attended a workshop focused on engaging industrial customers through energy efficiency. MEEA staff tasked them with a bit of role-play, presenting two policy scenarios constructed to reflect an amalgamation of the industrial energy efficiency landscape in the Midwest. The first scenario featured a mandate for energy savings but some form of industrial opt-out or exemption that removed a substantial number of customers from participation, thus reducing the budget for industrial sector EE programs. The second scenario was a voluntary EE state with limited overall portfolios that also has low industrial program funding.
Midwest Energy Solutions Conference
For the first time, the 2020 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference offered a scholarship for students to attend with all or most expenses covered, to join more than 700 industry professionals for three days of learning and networking.
The scholarship, sponsored by Nexant, covered the cost of registration, travel and housing for recipients. The opportunity was open to college, graduate and trade students throughout the Midwest.
In order to create the best possible experience for customers, utilities must take their perspectives into consideration. Energy efficiency programs are often designed to maximize energy savings and fail to account for the specific needs and preferences of the customers they are targeting. At the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference this past February, attendees had the opportunity to brainstorm ways to best engage their customers by putting themselves in their shoes. “Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes” encouraged attendees to put aside their program perspectives and think through program design from a customer’s point of view.
Contractors – those who install energy efficiency upgrades in buildings – are the backbone of the EE industry. However, despite being crucial market actors to ensuring upgrades are properly installed, programs are sometimes designed or updated without consulting contractors to understand how their businesses may be impacted. Contractors are also grappling with labor shortages and an aging workforce, even though they often offer high wages and on-the-job training.
The year 2007 was an unforgettable year for multiple reasons. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (the final book of the series) was released, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on Climate Change, and it sparked the start of the subprime mortgage crisis which sent America into the greatest recession since the great depression. But, perhaps more influential than anything else was when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world. The iPhone took the world by storm, completely changing the way society interacts with technology and the way technology interacts with society.
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).
Last year, I entered the Hilton Chicago to embark on my very first Midwest Energy Solutions Conference. Being new to the MEEA staff, I gleaned a lot of good advice from colleagues, but there was nothing like experiencing the conference full-on for the first time.
Whether you’re an MES veteran or a first-timer, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your conference experience:
Energy efficiency investments and their resulting energy savings drive financial benefits throughout the Midwest region. To spread these benefits, on February 7, 2018, MEEA will host the "Good EE Policy for Economic Growth Summit" in Chicago. This free summit, sponsored by E4theFuture and preceding the 2018 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, will focus on the ways energy efficiency advocates develop sound policy to drive regional economic and job growth.