Over the past 15 years, utility-run energy efficiency programming has produced significant energy savings, customer cost savings and a host of system-wide and societal benefits throughout the Midwest. Unfortunately, these benefits are not fully understood or recognized by many state legislators and other policymakers. As a result, MEEA and other energy efficiency industry experts must recurringly defend EE policies from those who misunderstand how efficiency is funded, its value and impact for utility customers and its widespread benefits within individual states and throughout the region.
Last week, the Minnesota legislature passed a major update to the state’s energy efficiency policy framework. The Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act passed both the House and Senate after a conference committee reached a compromise on the remaining areas of disagreement between the two chambers. The Act was signed by Governor Walz on May 25th.
People around the United States watched in dismay as Texans suffered through a terrible series of events in mid-February —below average temperatures, rolling blackouts that lasted nearly five days for some, burst pipes, energy bill spikes and an overall sense of trauma and shock.
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.