MEEA’s mission to support and advance energy efficiency across the Midwest typically takes shape as promoting supportive policies and the positive impact of EE like new jobs, energy savings, economic impacts and environmental benefits. From time to time, though, the Midwest experiences challenges to energy efficiency. New polices in Ohio have become the greatest barrier to energy efficiency in the Midwest right now, essentially ending all EE programs on December 31, 2020. How did we get here when energy efficiency has continuously been recognized for both economic and environmental benefits?
Working from home, traveling less, educating children from dining room tables, enrolling for classes online and streaming more entertainment: COVID-19 has caused residential energy usage to peak, especially in homes not as efficient as they can be.
In a time when homes double as offices, schools and safe places, energy audits are more important than ever. They are the first step to a more efficient, more comfortable and less expensive home. Largely due to the pandemic, many utility companies across the country have adapted to offer home energy audits completely virtually. This offers a risk free way for families to manage their energy use.
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.
In the 36 years since the California Standard Practice Manual (CaSPM) was first released, cost-effectiveness testing has spread across the country following the growth of utility customer-funded energy efficiency. The California tests have been adopted by utilities, consultants, regulatory commissions and legislators to determine whether an energy efficiency measure or program is worth pursuing and whether a completed program performed as expected. Fundamentally, a cost-effectiveness test measures the total benefits divided by the total costs, and passes if the ratio is greater than or equal to 1.0.
Recreational cannabis hits the shelves January 1, 2020 in both Illinois and Michigan. How will the race to market impact energy use?
Growing cannabis is an energy-intensive process, and as cultivators focus on getting product ready as quickly as possible, it will be easy for energy efficiency to get pushed to the backburner and energy consumption to rise.
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized their much-anticipated Clean Power Plan (CPP). This rule, proposed by the Obama Administration, aimed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants by 32% by 2030. The CPP set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants and allowed states flexibility to comply with the emission targets.
The “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule is the proposed replacement to the CPP by the Trump Administration. While the CPP prudently incorporated energy efficiency, ACE largely ignores it, undermining the economic, environmental and health benefits energy efficiency offers.
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.