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2015 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference Recap

Thanks to all who attended the 13th Annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference last week in Chicago. More than 600 energy leaders from throughout the nation at the Chicago Hilton and Towers to explore energy issues.

Last week’s conference addressed emerging energy industry trends, taking on critical questions such as:
• How can utilities turn consumer interest in energy efficiency into long-term action?
• Why is it important for businesses and governments to make energy efficiency investments part of long-term strategies?
• What are the challenges and solutions to saving energy in Midwestern agricultural operations?
• What is Utility 2.0 and is it the utility business model of the future?

Other conference highlights included:

Wednesday, Jan. 28
• Keynote remarks by Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Director for the Office of Air and Radiation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
• Energy Efficiency and the Clean Power Plan: A Choose Your Own Adventure for States: With the release of the U.S. EPA’s draft Clean Power Plan, states will need to weigh supply- and demand-side options in relation to one another. Panelists including Doug Scott, former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, and Philip Mihlmester, ICF International executive vice president, explored the factors that influence these decisions including resource potential, costs and reliability impacts.
• Under the Influence: How are Behavior Change Programs Going beyond Initial Influence to Achieve Sustained Energy Savings?: Social marketing and customized data have the power to catch community interest, but how can utilities turn that interest into long-term action? This panel looked at several emerging behavior-changing programs and the tactics used to leverage momentum into persistent savings.

Thursday, Jan. 29
• The Brave New World of Integrated Efficiency: Panelists discussed the potential for Integrated Efficiency in the Midwest and activities that could result in a large expansion of energy efficiency technologies in the near future. They also discussed business model innovations that will enable market transformations.
• Agricultural Energy Efficiency: A Midwestern Imperative: Opportunities to save energy in Midwestern agricultural operations and rural small businesses abound, yet significant barriers still remain. Panelists identified challenges, solutions and next steps to take in the Midwest.
• Friends with Non-energy Benefits: Beyond the Monetary Savings of Energy Efficiency: The benefits of energy efficiency for the customer are extensive: monetary savings, improved comfort and safety, increased employee productivity and better brand positioning. This panel explored the latest trends in measuring and marketing these non-energy benefits and presented a case study.
• 11th Annual Inspiring Efficiency Awards Dinner and Gala. MEEA presented awards in Education, Innovation, Impact, Marketing and Leadership and announced the 2015 Chairman’s Award winner.

Friday, Jan. 30
• Keynote remarks by Terry Proffer from Major Geothermal on behalf of IKEA.
• Surfing Advanced Lighting’s Cutting Edge…Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond: The digitization of lighting technology continues to drive transformative change. Efficiency, integrated control systems and consumer expectations are evolving in the new LED landscape. Panelists discussed what’s currently possible in efficient lighting systems, and gave a glimpse into the next wave for residential, commercial and industrial markets.
• The Most Known Unknowns: The Future of Energy Efficiency in an Uncertain Environment: Recognized as valuable contributions to our resource mix, energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) face an uncertain future in organized energy markets. Panelists presented the effects of recent regulatory proceedings on the future role of EE and DR in capacity markets and opportunities and challenges for businesses bidding into these markets.

For a detailed conference agenda, visit



photo credit: Rebecca Sack