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MEEA Participates in the IL DCEO Peer Exchange

Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) held its 2013 annual peer exchange August 28-29, 2013 at the Starved Rock Lodge in Utica, IL. The event provided updates on DCEO’s recent partnerships to advance energy efficiency. Mel Nickerson, Deputy Director DCEO- Illinois Energy Office, kicked off the exchange by providing an overview of these efforts. Bruce Selway, DCEO, moderated a panel between Workforce Investment, Urban Weatherization, Community Development, and Regional Economic Development on the ways the state agencies have worked together to advance their mutual goals and areas for potential collaboration. It is clear that energy efficiency is seen as a key component for job creation and economic development across the state agencies. Following the panel, Agnes Mrozowski, moderated a panel where Illinois experts discussed Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Policies and Programs and Recycling, topic areas that are also under the purview of DCEO. Later, Ann McCabe, a Commissioner at the Illinois Commerce Commission, provided insights into the regulatory future of EE in Illinois and problems associated with placing too much of an emphasis on first year energy savings while also mentioning the need for a continued discussion on the state’s net to gross framework.

MEEA was well represented at the exchange over the two days. Will Baker, Program Manager, Eric Roach, Senior Program Associate, and Catie Krasner, Program Associate, of MEEA, along with Darren Meyers, IECC, Corbett Lunsford, Illinois Association of Energy Raters, and Brian Deal, Smart Energy Design Assistance Center, spoke about DCEO’s myriad training and education efforts around EE. Will spoke about BPI rebates, one-day advanced building science education offered through the Building Science Training Series, real estate agent education, and the diagnostic energy equipment loan program. These services are offered through Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® and help support the development of a thriving whole home industry in Illinois. In partnership with DCEO, MEEA has awarded over 1,000 IHP Silver Certificates across the state and continues to build partnerships between utilities, auditors, and contractors with the goal of improving the energy efficiency of Illinois homes. Eric spoke about the first Building Operator Certification® (BOC) veterans pilot offered in the country during the last program year. The pilot targeted unemployed or underemployed veterans, and helped improve their skills in building operations. Facilities that will hire these graduates are proven to save energy, have lower energy bills, and offer improved comfort for occupants. For the sixth straight year, DCEO EEPS funding will allow MEEA to certify 120 graduates for a total of 1000+ BOC graduates in Illinois and will continue to offer a BOC training program designed to train and employ military veterans. Catie provided an update on MEEA’s Lights for Learning® (L4L) efforts across the state. The Lights for Learning® program gets energizes students and inspires them to engage in energy-efficient actions, stimulates awareness of energy conservation methods, and educates students to become the next generation of environmentally aware citizens. The program uses group education reinforced through the sale of compact fluorescent light bulbs and other energy-saving products. To date over 115,000 students have been educated through the program. Students have distributed energy saving measures into their communities through 1,000 energy-efficiency themed fundraisers.

On the second day, Isaac Elnecave, MEEA’s Senior Policy Manager on Codes, provided an update of the innovative utility-funded codes work that MEEA has partnered on with Illinois’ Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) and the State Energy Office. Isaac covered how the codes collaborative identified relevant compliance-improvement activities, determined the potential for energy savings, and dealt with attribution and allocation of those savings over the course of the last year. Finally, ComEd, Ameren Illinois, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, and DCEO’s David Baker spoke about new program initiatives for the current program year. Stephen Bell, from the Illinois Green Economy Network, rounded out the discussion with a highlight of the community colleges’ work on renewable energy.

The presentations and associated discussions on everything from EEPs updates, to workforce training, EVs, codes, renewables, recycling, and biofuels made this year’s DCEO Peer Exchange a great success.

For more information on Illinois Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® or BOC please contact Will Baker at wbaker@mwalliance.org/ or visit www.illinoishomeperformance.org/ or www.boccentral.org/ . For more information on Lights for Learning® please contact Catie Krasner at ckrasner@mwalliance.org or visit www.lights4learning.org . For more information on the codes collaborative please contact Isaac Elnecave at ielnecave@mwalliance.org/. Presentations from the peer exchange are available at: http://smartenergy.illinois.edu/2013DCEOPeerExchange.html