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MEEA is excited to present the 2020 Midwest Energy Efficiency Spotlight, which showcases the impact energy efficiency (EE) policies and programs have had for Midwestern residents and businesses. The metrics we highlight depict the Midwest EE industry and chronicle the vast benefits EE has had on the region. The following facts and figures cast a spotlight on how the EE industry creates prosperous and resilient local, state and regional economies while driving energy savings to meet current and future energy demand.

The Spotlight highlights the numerous energy efficiency success stories across our region, but these successes have not come easily. Consider that the Midwest contains the bulk of the nation’s industrial sector, communities with economies reliant on fossil fuel generation, states with primarily low-cost electricity and natural gas and regions of extreme climates and significant seasonal weather shifts.

It’s apparent the EE industry spans nearly every locality in the region. The benefits of EE profoundly impact our built environment and economy. Energy efficiency is a local resource that draws broad support from red and blue states, all income levels and rural and urban areas alike.

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The Midwest saved 8.9 million MWh in 2018. The top five states are the regional leaders in energy savings, responsible for 76% of the region’s total 2018 electricity savings.

In 2020, our 13 states will collectively invest almost $1.87 billion dollars in EE to save both natural gas and electricity. EE investment in the Midwest has more than doubled over the past decade and is almost 15 times what it was at the turn of the millennium. This investment signals a regional commitment to energy savings, and demonstrates that utilities, policymakers, regulators and stakeholders recognize EE as a necessary resource to meet energy demand cost-effectively.

Editor's Note: This figure includes Illinois' bridge period, and thus represents 19 months of data from Illinois. Disaggregation was not possible. 

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The Midwest saved 153 million therms in 2018. The top five states represent 90% of the region’s annual natural gas energy savings. Natural gas energy efficiency savings and spending are better reported in some states than others, and there is no federal gas EE reporting as with electricity. Enhancing natural gas EE reporting would increase our understanding of this resource for our region.

municipal and cooperative utilities

A quarter of the region’s electric customers live in primarily small cities and rural areas. These areas are served by numerous municipal and cooperative utilities in the Midwest, many of which run strong energy efficiency programs.

Based on annual federal energy reporting for 2018, these are the top 10 electricity-saving municipal, cooperative and public power utilities in the Midwest. For consistency and comparability, some municipalities have been aggregated according to the joint action agencies that serve those member utilities.

states with policy collaboratives

Policies designed to drive energy savings vary across the Midwest. Some states use mandatory savings requirements while others utilize long range planning processes. Regardless of the directives to utilities, it’s apparent an active statewide policy collaborative can foster transparency and improve program design. Stakeholder collaboratives can bring together utilities, implementers, evaluators, regulatory staff, consumer advocates, community leaders and other interested parties. Collaboratives facilitate information sharing and aim to reduce the number of contested issues in regulatory commission proceedings.

Illinois has a long-running statewide collaborative, and its website facilitates public participation in the collaborative.

Both Illinois’ and Michigan’s collaboratives are sustained through monthly meetings that allow for continued dialogue and regular updating of resources supporting the implementation of EE programs.

Finally, the Missouri Public Service Commission staff convene quarterly collaborative meetings with agendas jointly developed by stakeholders. 

states that save the most from energy codes

Regular adoption of updated building codes and improved compliance with existing codes is critical to ensuring new commercial and residential buildings are energy efficient. Note the five states achieving the greatest energy savings through building energy code adoption in the residential and commercial sectors – among these states are national leaders in codes adoption.

Nebraska achieved most improved adoption by completing a residential compliance study and holding hearings to adopt the 2018 IECC (most up to date version of the national model energy code), establishing Nebraska’s unamended 2018 IECC as the strongest residential code in the Midwest. This will result in an approximately 30% improvement in building energy efficiency.

In 2019, St. Louis, MO updated its residential and commercial code from the 2009 to the 2018 IECC, earning the recognition of most improved adoption for a jurisdiction.

Missouri gets most improved compliance due to Ameren Missouri’s efforts to help to improve energy code compliance throughout their territory with the implementation of a 3-year energy code support program.

states with code collaboratives

Statewide collaboratives are also valuable in the building energy codes sector. The collaboratives that focus specifically on addressing barriers to building energy code compliance are gaining traction in the Midwest, as indicated by the map. 2019 saw collaboratives form in Michigan and Missouri. We anticipate greater activity in 2020 as collaboratives mature.

top chp generators

Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, is a system that recovers heat that would otherwise be lost in power generation and uses it to generate heating and/or cooling and power from a single fuel source. CHP can be over 40% more efficient than traditional generation and is more cost-effective than providing heat and electricity separately. In some states, utilities can count CHP toward energy efficiency goals.

Manufacturing, institutional facilities and commercial buildings are taking advantage of CHP to improve the reliability and resiliency of their operations.

According to federal electric generation data, 89.8 million MWh of electricity were generated through CHP in our region in 2018.


energy star certified homes

Within the residential sector, five Midwest states operate Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) programs. HPwES helps homeowners save money on their energy bills, helps the residential real estate market value energy efficiency and allows homebuyers to easily identify energy efficient homes. MEEA contributed to this by implementing the award-winning Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program from 2009-2019. Over the duration of the program, more than 11,000 ENERGY STAR certificates were issued to Illinois residents. MEEA also facilitates the Midwest Home Performance collaborative, which brings together home performance program staff from across the region to foster discussions and create solutions through quarterly webinars and meetings.  

boc graduate numbers

The Building Operator Certification® (BOC) program drives operational efficiency and creates economic opportunities for operators of facilities in the commercial and industrial sectors. The BOC program achieves measurable energy savings by training facilities staff directly responsible for day-to-day building operations. BOC graduates use the tools learned in training to help their facilities save energy, reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their building systems.

Fundamentally, BOC is a job training and workforce development program that adds skillsets to increase building operators’ value in the job market. According to NEEC’s 2012 Career Advancement Survey, 51% of BOC-certified professionals receive a salary increase, 25% are promoted, 16% receive bonuses and 9% acquire a new position. MEEA began running this program in 2003, helping 6,373 building operators achieve certification along the way.

map of ee product manufacturers

Energy efficiency is proudly made in the Midwest. We have identified over 600 manufacturing locations for energy efficient products, as well as company headquarters, across the region. The points on the map represent facilities associated with more than 400 companies and brands. This map represents 52 more locations than our map from last year, and reflects the additional DOE Better Plants and EPA Energy Star challenge for industry partners added since last year.

heat map depicting number of EE jobs across Midwest

Energy efficiency employs more than half a million people across the Midwest and is rising. The workforce increased by more than 14,000 jobs from 2017 to 2018. This map shows where these jobs are located across the region.

So, what is an EE job? EE jobs span the sectors of blue- and white-collar work, driven primarily by small, local businesses as well as multinational corporations and research institutions. EE jobs can include installation, financing, program evaluation, manufacturing, advocacy and engineering of energy efficiency goods and services, among others. 


map of states with financing programs

For some customers, the upfront cost of energy efficiency upgrades is a barrier to energy savings. Financing mechanisms can increase a utility customer’s access to energy efficiency. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and On-bill are two financing tools used by Midwestern states to expand the adoption of energy efficiency upgrades. PACE administrators offer loans to customers which cover all upfront costs of EE measures. The loan is paid through a special assessment on the property’s tax bill. The On-Bill model allows customers to pay for energy efficiency measures over time using a portion of bill savings from those measures. On-bill is now allowed in eight Midwestern states; PACE is also allowed in eight states and has funded 377 projects in the region since 2008.

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The Midwest Energy Efficiency Spotlight shares the impacts associated with strong energy efficiency practices across the region, from the impressive energy savings to job creation and empowering customers to save money on their energy bills. MEEA will continue to shine a spotlight on the successes across the Midwest.

Learn about our methodology and sources here. Questions? Contact MEEA Policy Director Nick Dreher.

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home with a star in it (energystar certified homes)
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