Every summer, MEEA members come together for the Annual Meeting of the Membership. The Annual Meeting is a time for members to elect MEEA’s Board of Directors and hear reports about the organization’s priorities and updates from the past year. With panels and sector-specific breakout sessions, the Annual Meeting is an invaluable opportunity for members to connect, learn about trends and strengthen the Midwest energy efficiency community.
This year’s Annual Meeting, held June 11th in Minneapolis, emphasized the culture of innovation sweeping the industry, from new products and services to creative funding models to smart regulation that fosters growth.
The Annual Meeting started bright and early with opening remarks from MEEA Board Chair Jeanine Penticoff and personal introductions in which MEEA members shared their goals for the day. By and large, members came to the Annual Meeting to deepen relationships with old friends and make new contacts, learn from and about other members, generate new opportunities for collaboration and learn more about MEEA and its direction for the coming year.
The body that helps provide that direction is MEEA’s dedicated board of directors. This year, five board members are rolling off— Vicki Campbell, Randy Gunn, Joe Plummer, Karen Rhodes and Tina Yoder. We thank you all for your service, commitment and insight over the years. Eight current board members were re-elected, and three new members will join the team to help guide and strengthen MEEA. New members include Wendy Jaehn, Vice President of ICF, Mary Schlaefer, CEO of WECC, and Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy.
The board is always seeking representation from across the energy efficiency industry, and we encourage those interested in board membership to get involved with MEEA committees, working groups and events.
Committee reports began with an overview of MEEA’s mission, structure and priorities for the year from Executive Director Stacey Paradis. Programs Director Will Baker reported on the organization’s ongoing program work and foreshadowed future initiatives, including new pilot projects and collaboratives. Karen Rhodes, out-going head of the membership committee, highlighted some of MEEA’s recent milestones—most notably, we are now more than 150 businesses and organizations strong. Randy Gunn reviewed energy codes and policy adoption in the Midwest and other important policy trends. Finally, Finance Committee Chair Jon Williams indicated that that MEEA is in a strong financial position and remains nimble in the face of changing economic situations.
Panel: “Energy Efficiency in Minnesota”
The Annual Meeting featured two insightful panels, the first of which focused on energy efficiency in Minnesota. Jay McCleary, now retired from the City of Red Wing, illustrated two creative and cost-effective ways he and his city were able to fund projects. Thanks to rebates from Xcel Energy, the city saved nearly $100,000 through energy efficiency during Jay’s tenure. By selling energy credits, the city was able to install solar panels on 6 public facilities without sacrificing historic charm or raising tax revenue. The second panelist, Rusty Callier of Uponor North America, discussed innovation in the industrial sector, again demonstrating the value of Xcel’s incentives.
Nick Mark of Centerpoint Energy explored several out-of-the-box case studies using renewables as efficiency, suggesting new ways to conceptualize what constitutes waste, efficiency and fuel-switching. Finally, Bridget McLaughlin Dokter of Xcel Eenrgy discussed Minneapolis’ Clean Energy Partnership involving utilities, public officials and a highly-motivated citizens advisory committee. For the city’s exemplary efforts to address climate change, Minneapolis was recognized by President Obama as a Climate Action Champion.
Thanks to vision, investment and partnerships in the industry, Minnesota has become an incubator for some truly fascinating and impactful energy efficiency projects.
Sector-Specific Breakout Sessions
After lunch, MEEA members divided into sector-specific breakout sessions to share ideas and give feedback about how MEEA could be an even better asset to its members.
Panel: “How are Trends in the Energy Industry Affecting Energy Efficiency?”
The afternoon panel “How are Trends in the Energy Industry Affecting Energy Efficiency?” was moderated by Adam Cooper of the Edison Foundation Institute for Electrical Innovation. Mark Allen of DNV GL articulated the state of the industry, one that is growing and innovating quickly, increasingly about people rather than technical skill, and in desperate need of better visuals (oh, CFL –what would we do without you?). Richard Meyer of the American Gas Association provided insights into natural gas usage, efficiency and pricing trends, demonstrating the stabilization of costs in recent (and perhaps future) years. The panel also featured Mike Bull of the Center for Energy and Environment, who presented on regulatory innovation in Minnesota’s E-21 initiative. Josh Brugeman of Next Energy spoke on the trends, challenges and opportunities in emerging technologies like the Tesla Powerwall, smart homes, LED lighting and other devices that communicate with one another in the rapidly evolving “Internet of Things” space. Overall, the panel suggested this is a unique time in energy efficiency marked by unprecedented opportunities for creativity and fresh perspectives to encourage it.
Looking to the Future
Thank you to all the attendees, board members and MEEA staff who made this event such a success! The 2016 Annual Meeting was our largest to date and signaled a bright future for energy efficiency. Though we face challenges, we will continue to meet them with a collaborative spirit, inventive ideas and the collective strength of our more than 150 members working to advance energy efficiency in the Midwest.
Download the Annual Meeting slides here.