MEEA’s policy team has spent 2019 traveling throughout the Midwest to meet with state legislators, regulators and policymakers. MEEA serves as the region’s trusted source on energy efficiency and promotes how states can maximize energy savings pursuant to their specific policies. We share regional best practices and research with governors’ administrations, legislators and regulatory bodies as they develop energy plans, policy priorities or other state and local policy initiatives. The 2018 state election results presented ample opportunity for MEEA to act as a positive, nonpartisan voice for energy efficiency.
With the support of the Joyce Foundation, we initiated important new relationships in the Great Lakes states and carried out similar efforts across most of the region. MEEA staff also conducted energy efficiency policy defense work against regressive initiatives and participated in numerous public service commission working groups to ensure existing policies and programs were achieving maximum energy savings.
A Busy Fall
This fall, MEEA staff traveled to several states for marathon days filled with meetings on energy efficiency policy best practices. We discussed an array of energy efficiency topics and provided resources, like our new Roadmap to Maximizing Energy Savings.
MEEA’s policy team traveled to St. Paul in September to meet with the newly appointed Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Katie Sieben. Minnesota is a regional leader in energy efficiency, so MEEA emphasized its strengths. Chair Sieben was particularly interested in driving diversity, inclusion and equity into the energy sector. MEEA highlighted the organization’s work in supplier diversity, low income work with the Energy Efficiency For All collaborative and the diversity and equity components in MEEA’s Strategic Action Plan. Building upon a visit earlier in the year, MEEA also sat down with Governor Walz’s energy advisor to discuss the governor’s priorities such as the Clean Energy First Act and building energy codes. We also spent time with relevant legislative committees to ensure that energy efficiency is maximized within their efforts and shared resources like MEEA’s Minnesota state page.
Building energy codes were the focus of MEEA’s October trip to Madison. Members of MEEA’s policy and building policy teams met with Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and Public Service Commission Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq. This meeting served as an introduction of MEEA to the new administration, and granted MEEA the opportunity to underscore the benefits of enacting stronger building energy codes, as Wisconsin is currently on the 2009 amended IECC for residential buildings. The meeting brought the Evers administration, PSC staff, and the Department of Safety and Professional Services together to discuss the new administration’s efforts in energy efficiency. MEEA hopes to offer technical expertise in their ongoing efforts to update the code. Additionally, MEEA staff met with several legislators to discuss the Focus on Energy program’s strength in promoting efficiency throughout the state.
In October MEEA staff met with the newly appointed Commissioners of the Michigan Public Service Commission, Dan Scripps and Tremaine Phillips. The meeting served as an introduction to MEEA’s work and was an opportunity to discuss the commission’s newly introduced MI Power Grid plan. The MI Power Grid initiative aims to turn the overwhelming number of energy efficiency cases, rate cases, integrated resource plan cases, distribution planning efforts, demand response initiatives and statewide energy assessment results into a cohesive statewide energy vision for the future. MEEA also met with Climate and Energy Office Director Dr. Brandy Brown and Environmental Justice Public Advocate Regina Strong at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to explore how energy efficiency can be a component of their work in climate action, health and environmental justice. One document MEEA shared with EGLE was our factsheet on the health benefits of energy efficiency. Additionally, MEEA met with the chair, vice chair and minority vice chair of both the Senate and House Energy committees to discuss the strengths of Michigan’s energy efficiency policies. With no energy legislation currently pending in Michigan’s legislature, MEEA staff emphasized the regional expertise we can bring to the committees in the future.
Though MEEA successfully advocated for positive energy efficiency policies in the region, some states unfortunately took steps backward. Using MEEA research and analysis, MEEA’s policy team strenuously defended energy efficiency in states where EERS were threatened.
With the support of the Joyce Foundation, MEEA staff worked with businesses and environmental and consumer advocates in the sixth year in defense of Ohio’s clean energy policies. MEEA’s policy team analyzed energy and bill savings that Ohioans have received historically from the EERS: cumulative savings of 49 million MWh of electricity have generated $5.1 billion in customer bill savings. MEEA made several trips to Ohio to share this information with policymakers through written and verbal testimony on H.B. 6, and staff met with Governor DeWine’s office to brief them on the positive economic impact of energy efficiency businesses in the state. Though Ohio passed legislation to end the energy efficiency standard, MEEA staff formed relationships with policymakers that can be utilized positively in the future. Additional information on Ohio’s H.B. 6 and next steps can be found here.
Expanding Our Reach
MEEA has placed an emphasis on growing relationships in all thirteen states in the Midwest to ensure there is a voice for energy efficiency in the larger energy debate. As more states in the region look to expand upon energy efficiency efforts, MEEA has been there to provide best practices and technical assistance on policies that achieve savings cost effectively.
MEEA hosted the 10th Annual Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference in Omaha last week. Policy staff attended to introduce MEEA to environmental advocates and elected officials. Nebraska’s adoption of the 2018 unamended International Energy Conservation Code for both residential and commercial buildings demonstrated an interest and willingness to take up energy efficiency policies. While there, the policy team met with staff from the Omaha Public Power District, Lincoln mayor’s office and Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy to discuss the future of energy efficiency in Nebraska.
In mid-November, MEEA staff sat down with Governor Kelly’s office to discuss her recent announcement to create a state energy plan. MEEA was asked to help facilitate and act as a technical expert on energy efficiency for the Kansas Energy Efficiency Collaborative, which it has engaged with since 2018. While in Topeka, MEEA’s policy team also met with newly appointed Commissioner Duffy to discuss positive regulatory work on energy efficiency from neighboring Midwest states and ways for Kansas to move energy efficiency forward.
The Midwest remains an exciting place to work in energy efficiency. New policymakers are leading efforts to transform energy markets and strengthen power grids for the 21st Century. MEEA is committed to driving energy efficiency into these discussions as it is the least-cost resource to meet our energy needs. As a nonpartisan, non-intervening organization, MEEA can provide legislators and regulators information on a variety of subtopics in energy efficiency like industrial policy, multifamily and low income programs and integrated resource planning. We look forward to maintaining relationships with these policymakers throughout the Midwest.
Please reach out to Policy Manager Nick Hromalik (email@example.com) or Policy Associate Maddie Wazowicz (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get involved in the political process or to share innovative ideas and opportunities.