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|30 Game Changers in the last 30 Years|
In 1990, when AESP was founded as the Association of Demand-side Management Professionals, there were no ENERGY STAR appliances, homes were still mostly lit by the warm glow of incandescent bulbs and iPhones were literally unheard of. Talking about controlling your home thermostat or security system from a phone thousands of miles away either meant you were a sci-fi writer or maybe a little crazy. The world today has changed dramatically from the one we knew in 1990. But what has not changed are the hearts and minds of people who work in this field. Driven by a desire to make the planet more sustainable for future generations, we are also realists in recognizing that consuming energy is an unavoidable piece of modern living. AESP members work each day to squeeze the most practical use out of every kilowatt hour, or therm, of energy being used. That’s energy efficiency.
In conjunction with AESP’s 30th anniversary in 2020, let’s look back at the last 30 years of our energy efficiency industry and recognize the innovations and people behind the ideas, products, policies, processes and more, which have improved and shaped the energy efficiency industry we know today. AESP is proud to be on this journey with you. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with in the next 30 years.
Evolutionary & Technology Changes
Solar and Renewables
AMI and Smart Meters
Big Data and Data Analytics
Weatherization Assistance Programs
Integrated Resource Planning
Internet of Things
Building Codes and Rating Systems
ENERGY STAR, Codes and Standards
States as Driving Forces
Decarbonization and Greenhouse Gas Reduction
State Utility Regulatory Policy: Ratemaking and Decoupling
IPMVP, EM&V and the Uniform Methods Project
People & Institutions
Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations
30 GAME CHANGERS FROM 1990-2020
Evolutionary & Technology Changes
Lighting Innovations: LEDs Light the Way
Even though electricity powers thousands more uses today, some folks still refer to their electric bill as their “light bill,” because since Edison’s dual invention of the electric bulb and the electric utility, lighting is the most ubiquitous “service” that electricity provides. Incandescent lighting remained relatively unchanged until the introduction in the early 1980s of the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb or CFL, a game-changing technology that dropped lighting energy use significantly. With the help of utility programs, homes and businesses converted to CFLs in droves. After the introduction of the electronic ballast in the early 1990s, Light Emitting Diode products or LEDs then came on strong, swiftly overtaking the lighting market with efficiency increases of 78% over an incandescent and 18% over a CFL. Bonus: LEDs generate far less heat than incandescent or CFLs, which means lower air conditioning requirements and thus even more energy savings. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 phased out inefficient light bulbs – signaling the end of an era for the common household incandescent bulb.
Rebates: Show Me the Money!
Early energy efficiency programs from the 1970s and ‘80s focused on providing information to consumers and businesses about the value of taking energy saving actions. These programs featured energy savings tips and on-site energy audits and had an important impact on driving action. That changed in the 1990s, when it was recognized that information alone did not address the incrementally higher cost of many energy efficiency products over standard models that served as the major barrier to adoption. In the 1990s regulators started supporting the concept of offering incentives (or rebates) for the purchase of energy efficient appliances and equipment. The color of money became decidedly green and ushered in a long run of utility rebate programs aimed at making the efficient choice cost-competitive with standard options. Such programs were easier to evaluate as records could be maintained on equipment purchased and the determination of savings could be easily estimated on a per unit basis. Major gains were made during this period where incentives served as the main method of intervening in the appliance and equipment marketplace. The era of generous rebates, however, is coming to an end as appliance and equipment standards have transformed the market and made inefficient equipment obsolete; and as considerations turn toward net savings, including the role of electrification.
Solar and Renewables
A game changer that was slow in gaining traction, but that has since taken off in recent years is renewable energy technology – electricity-generating systems that rely on wind, solar and other renewable fuel sources. Prior to the 2000s, utilities had begun incorporating solar and renewable energy resources – both utility-scale and customer-sited - into their generation plans in varying degrees based on such factors as technical viability and comparative costs to traditional energy resources. Climate change and the need to reduce fossil fuels have recently combined with lower technology costs to dramatically increase the renewables proportion of both supply and demand-side plans. Energy planners, regulators and policy makers alike view solar and renewable energy systems as critical to grid modernization and the achievement of a lower cost, sustainable energy future. Most promising has been the commercial development of storage technology which combined with solar can help extend the availability of electricity to times when the sun isn’t shining. Innovators such as Tesla are building storage products today for the business and consumer markets, which will likely be yet another game changer as this technology becomes more widely available.
AMI and Smart Meters
Electric meters had not materially changed for 50 years until Advanced Metering Infrastructure or AMI came along. Also called “smart meters,” this technology got a huge boost from the ARRA stimulus funding which allowed many utilities to conduct mass conversions from older manual-read meters to AMI. AMI is an essential foundation for grid modernization and for unlocking the potential for Demand Response (DR) and enabling the increased penetration of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar and storage. It allows for net-metering, turning consumers into “prosumers” and achieving policy and grid modernization objectives. But perhaps most importantly, AMI provides for increased granularity into the energy usage patterns of facilities and households - opening up a world of new energy services and products to help people manage their usage and bills. This technology enabled utilities to up their game from legacy water heater and air conditioning control programs to full-on demand response programs, which gives them the chance to modulate critical demand on the system in exchange for customer incentives. In this way, smart meters and AMI help utilities better manage circuit loads and support integrated system planning, including the development of non-wires alternatives (NWAs). Tomorrow’s grid will undoubtedly include more renewables, storage and information flows between users and suppliers of our increasingly sustainable energy system.
Big Data, Data Analytics
AMI and Smart Meters may be transforming the grid, but they are also the primary game changing source of data on energy usage. As utilities and energy service providers daily gather mega-millions of data points – down to 5-minute intervals per meter – there has been an explosive need for ways to manage, clean and analyze the data. Added to the usage data from AMI is the equally transformative data source from the digitization of all manner of lifestyle and business activities – from social media clicks, to online purchasing behavior, to GPS location feeds. The energy sector is not the only one grappling with how to turn all these data into insights. Energy efficiency programs are using data analytics tools to identify underserved markets, link opportunities for savings against the location of distribution assets, and surgically target customers with a high propensity to adopt products all based on reams of data combined with everything from advanced statistical analysis methods to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Weatherization Assistance Programs
Houses waste energy through air leakage due to poor caulking, outdated single pane windows, inadequate insulation in the roof, walls and crawl spaces, and all the hundreds of penetrations in walls from outlets and fixtures. Plugging these leaks has been the mission of weatherization programs, starting with the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) of 1976. Created under the Energy Conservation Policy Act, the early programs provided local grants to help low-income households weatherize their homes and included limited subsidies for paying energy bills. Techniques have evolved regarding the best ways to weatherize buildings including sophisticated tools such as blower-door technology or thermal scans that show where leaks are occurring and insulation is inadequate, all the way down to caulking products and foam gaskets that plug leaks in exterior wall outlets. Weatherization strategies continue to be paramount in areas where both heating and cooling demand is high, with more recent programs focused on home energy kits of self-install measures and direct install programs for multifamily buildings. Weatherization strategies have expanded significantly over the years as utilities, state and local social services agencies and other federal departments such as Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services have embraced the concept that energy efficient healthier homes make for healthier and more productive households. Even so, WAP continues to be a cornerstone of efforts to improve the building stock of lower income neighborhoods and families everywhere.
Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) and Renewables Integration
Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) is the modeling process of comparing both supply and demand options for meeting electricity demand. PURPA established the concept of avoided costs – or how to establish a price for electricity that does not have to be generated. This mechanism allowed utilities to compare investments in supply options – such as new generating units that produce megawatts (MW) – against investments in programs that reduce the demand for electricity (which spawned the term “Nega-watts”). Since the 1980s and the advent of least-cost planning, IRP has become the preferred method required by regulators for utilities to present their long terms plans for meeting forecasted loads, replacing the capacity expansion plans of yesteryear. The engineering and economic planning models of today enable consideration of widely expanded adoption of both utility scale and customer-sited distributed generation, from massive solar farms to solar rooftop systems.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
While the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Act of 1975 (CAFÉ standards) first recognized the need to increase fuel efficiency in cars, the big game changer in transportation efficiency has been the emergence of electric cars. Natural gas vehicles made important inroads into the transportation sector in the 1990s with most of the traction in buses and fleet vehicles. Highly disruptive to the transportation sector today however, EVs are on the periphery of the energy efficiency space in their implications for both programs and buildings. The efficiency gains in energy consumption over gasoline-powered vehicles combine with the lower maintenance costs of EVs to offer benefits to users while reducing carbon emissions as a benefit to society. Electric motors are inherently more efficient than internal combustion engines, with estimates of 95 percent vs. 35 percent. Furthermore, electric fuel cost is cheaper because all fuel sources to make it are typically cheaper than petroleum, and combined with the motor efficiency advantage, EVs are an overall win-win. This technology impacts energy efficiency policies and programs in two ways: 1) utilities in certain markets have started incentivizing electric cars, fleet vehicles and even electric buses and 2) EV charging units are being incentivized and incorporated into new buildings and homes. However there’s another benefit in this game changer: the contribution that EVs can make to optimizing load shapes by integrating their charging and storage capabilities with buildings. That is probably the biggest opportunity for EE – accommodating other electric loads around EV charging or vice versa. Utilities across the U.S. are still developing their strategies for this game changing technology. Whether they are proactively promoting it or making plans to react to increased production, demand and lower prices, EVs are undoubtedly going to be a bigger part of the future of transportation.
Thermostat technology has been the lynchpin to energy consumption in buildings for decades, starting with the simplest dial units, to radio-controlled units, to units with timers or demand limiters, to today’s WiFi-enabled smart thermostats. This latest class of thermostats can not only be remotely controlled, but more importantly can learn and react to the behaviors and preferences of the people in your household or office. For the utility sector, smart thermostats present an important resource for capturing demand response resources, whereby people are incentivized either passively (through rate signals or rewards) or actively (through contracted agreements to curtail usage or via remote control). Smart thermostats are one of the first applications of Artificial Intelligence, where programs continually react to human interactions, then eventually settle on settings that deliver the best service based on previous behaviors. For utilities, the increased penetration of smart thermostats give them another important tool in their resource toolbox for optimizing the performance of the grid and delivering reliable, reasonably priced electricity.
Internet of Things
For many consumers, the convenience, if not the complete seduction, of new digital technologies is trumping concerns over the erosion of privacy in our lives. Sales of voice-activated assistants, smart phones and interactive doorbells attest to that. We live in an era when our thermostats can interact with our voice-activated assistant and our convection oven to produce chocolate chip cookies by the time we arrive home. These same tools, however present a myriad of opportunities to consider the energy use and carbon emissions implications of our actions. Sensors are everywhere, giving us remote information on the performance of our homes, appliances, cars and communities. This information can be used to track our impact on issues important to us, such as our personal carbon footprint, and give us rewards and suggestions for doing more. The IOT is indeed a game changer for the energy community, with opportunities for more inventions and implications for how we run appliances more efficiently for years to come.
Digital technology has radically changed how we market and engage with energy efficiency programs and services. Smart phones have put the power of choice in our hands. Today we can literally control the energy use in our homes from the palm of our hand via wireless technology. More than that, we can compare our usage to our neighbors, check the status of our carbon footprint, or apply for an energy efficiency program all from our smart phone, laptop or tablet. Programs are going wholesale on-line through energy Marketplaces, trade ally portals and on-line dashboards that enable detailed tracking of applications, results and the impacts of marketing and outreach strategies. EE program marketing too has evolved from 1990 to present – from non-digital printed mailers or bill stuffers, to free ubiquitous email blast marketing, to all that today’s Internet, WiFi/mobile technology, Big Data and social media have unleashed, including geotargeting, push-notification and gamification apps. Consumers speak loud and clear about their expectations for utility programs to offer an Amazon-like or Google-type experience, and energy services providers – and their regulators - are heavily challenged to keep up with these digital trends.
Integrated Demand-Side Management
In an industry full of acronyms -- EE, DR, DER, DSM -- Integrated Demand Side Management (IDSM) refers to combinations of these strategies for increasing the efficient use and production of energy on the customer side of the meter. With the recent decrease in prices of distributed energy resources (DER) such as rooftop solar panels, plus the increased viability of smaller customer-sited energy storage units, program portfolios are expanding their offerings from traditional energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) strategies to the promotion of on-site generation and storage. Even so, getting the combinations right is not so straightforward. For example, electric vehicles are being valued for their contribution to building off-peak loads, and while that’s good for electric utilities, it can have a negative impact on the growth of solar. Carefully planned IDSM is necessary for shaping and shifting loads in the most beneficial manner for both utilities and their customers. These integrated strategies are made possible partially because of another innovation: net-metering, where households and building managers can optimize their energy related usage patterns as both consumers and producers of electricity i.e. “prosumers”.
Behavioral Programs/Social Norms
Most of the focus around energy efficiency lies in technology (from LEDs to high efficiency heat pumps to smart thermostats) and how people interact with them (e.g. turning off lights or reducing water heater temperatures). With the advent of wireless and digital technologies, more recent focus has been around human behaviors in response to feedback, even in real time. Behavioral programs are specifically about the use of data for influencing behavior; from data about your energy use or that of your neighbors or other cohorts that are important to you (the realm of social norms), to data sent to your cellphone from your thermostat, refrigerator or doorbell. This latest wave of energy services harnesses vast quantities of digital information and translates it into insights through data analytics and artificial intelligence, to help us all make wiser energy related decisions through changing our behavior.
Time of Use Rates
The primary tool that utilities have for influencing energy consumption and demand is through the rates that they charge per unit of consumption that make up the utility bill. Standard rates involve a fixed fee plus a flat rate or charge per kWh or therm regardless of when the energy is used. (There may be slight variations based on the amount consumed.) Time of Use (TOU) rates and other variable time rates encourage consumers and other users to shift their usage based on different rates for different times of day or even hour of the year. There is interest in some jurisdictions in adoption of TOU rates as a tool for reducing peak demand while encouraging off-peak usage (where rates increase dramatically during peak demand periods). TOU rates have been around in the utility industry for a long time, with varying results. But they remain an important tool for better aligning pricing with actual costs of service.
Federal Policy: Making It Law
Our national conversation about conservation started in 1977 the evening President Jimmy Carter spoke to the nation in his cardigan sweater and implored us to take simple steps to conserve energy for heating our homes – to essentially adjust our lifestyles for the good of the nation – so we could be less dependent on foreign sources of energy. While it was President Gerald Ford who launched the first Energy Conservation Policy legislation (1975 and 1976), Carter made it personal, and then made it the law. The National Energy Act of 1977 and its offshoots, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) and National Energy Conservation Policy and Act (NECPA), promoted energy conservation to reduce demand, and the greater use of domestic energy and renewable energy to increase supply. Regulations from these legislative acts launched utility-provided home energy audits and weatherization programs and created the U.S. Department of Energy. Subsequent legislative game changers include the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the first major energy law in over a decade with energy efficiency provisions, appliance standards and tax incentives. The most recent Clean Power Plan (2017) was an attempt to refocus attention from efficiency to the development of sustainable energy alternatives consistent with climate policy, but its provisions were replaced in 2019 in favor of eliminating restrictions on U.S. energy production and alleviating environmental constraints.
Building Codes and Rating Systems
Another offshoot of the 1970s oil crisis was the recognition that building energy efficiency must be addressed. Building codes related to safety and structural integrity had long existed since the ‘50s for homes and early ‘70s for commercial buildings, but the idea of requiring minimum levels of energy efficiency was a game changer. In 1975, the industry took charge, when the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) published Standard 90.1, Energy Conservation in New Building Design. This was followed by the creation of industry groups such as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) created by the International Code Council in 2000 and the Building Performance Institute (BPI) in 1993 to help train the construction industry in energy efficiency technologies, installation practices and operating procedures. More recently stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 catalyzed the adoption of building energy codes across states. Finally, several other rating systems for encouraging building efficiency were launched including Home Energy Rating System (HERS), ENERGY STAR, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). These codes and rating systems have significantly advanced the efficiency of the building stock and provide benefits for years to come.
ENERGY STAR, Codes and Standards
The energy used by appliances and equipment has been modified through two mechanisms – mandatory and voluntary codes and standards that set maximum levels of energy use per unit or product. As early as 1975 some states implemented appliance efficiency standards in response to the energy crisis at the time. Then the DOE was given the authority to set mandatory standards for household appliances starting in 1978, but it wasn’t until 1987 and the enactment of the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) that efficiency standards became mandatory for certain products at the national level. The big push came, though, with the federal ENERGY STAR program, a voluntary certification and labeling program which popularized the brand and notion of minimum levels of energy efficiency for appliances and equipment. Such codes and standards have effectively transformed the lighting, appliances and HVAC markets in the US, negating the need for incentives in some cases. Even so, they continue to play a critical role in pushing manufacturers to design ever more energy efficiency products.
States as Driving Forces
Did you know that the first energy efficient appliance standards were established at the state level? California started the trend in 1974, quickly followed by New York, Florida, and Massachusetts. In fact, states from two coasts have led the way in state level policies and programs ever since. The California Energy Commission (CEC) and its regulatory partner, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), have promoted aggressive energy efficiency policies impacting the state’s IOUs: PG&E, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas, and San Diego Gas and Electric. Not to be outdone, the progressive public power utilities of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) have consistently kept pace if not blasted past the private utilities in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy in tandem with California State legislators and regulators. California led the way in measuring “negawatts" through its Standard Practice guidelines and concept of avoided cost. Rapid promotion of electric vehicles and net zero buildings are the latest in a string of EE’s greatest hits to come out of this progressive state. The other coastal powerhouse that has competed with California for top spot on the energy efficiency leaderboard can be found in New York and the New England states, particularly Massachusetts. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has been a statewide and regional think tank investigating emerging technologies and programmatic solutions to increasing the efficiency of buildings and equipment, while the NY Public Service Commission has led the way in leveraging the state’s private utilities in carrying out those programs. Massachusetts has taken the approach of coordinating the efforts of its utilities and other Program Administrators - such that policies and programs have consistency across the state and take advantage of collaborative research. The latest iteration of policies adopted in the region is the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceedings, a policy that recognizes the importance of market enablement, planning improvement and support for increased penetration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER).
Decarbonization, Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Former Vice President Al Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” catapulted the challenge of climate change to the popular forefront. Perhaps even more impactful than looking at the TV is to simply look out the window at the myriad of extreme weather events that have occurred in the past decade – Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Maria to the recent wildfires in California and Australia. Cities, states and countries have been experiencing unprecedented impacts due in part to human activity increasing the production of greenhouse gases and the global depletion of carbon-capturing and -eliminating mechanisms such as rainforests. Strategies for mitigating the effects of climate change include renewable energy systems and energy efficiency programs aimed at reducing fossil fuel demand, electrification programs aimed at replacing natural gas use, market mechanisms such as a carbon trading credits that put a value on carbon-reducing strategies, and a federal tax on carbon-emitting technologies. In the transportation sector, EV manufacturers promise to radically alter the impacts of GHGs if widespread adoption takes hold (a big “if” when gasoline prices continue to fluctuate so radically and the charging infrastructure continues to move at a snail’s pace). As car and truck manufacturers make significant shifts in their production of EVs, this technology has the potential to have a game-changing impact on significantly reducing carbon emissions. Finally, some utility programs are pivoting their skills and tools for reducing energy use toward the challenge of increasing the resiliency of the building stock. Both strategies – adaptation and mitigation – will be needed to face the looming challenge of climate change.
State Utility Regulatory Policy: Ratemaking and Decoupling
NECPA and PURPA heralded the first time that gas and electric utilities were tapped as a vehicle for carrying out federal energy conservation policy, with the lever being on the state regulation of utility rates. In many states ever since, utilities have filed energy efficiency program plans as part of rate cases and have been allowed to recoup program costs – to varying degrees and based on evaluated results – through the ratemaking mechanism. The concept of such regulatory practice has been that all ratepayers (customers) benefit from utility promotion of energy efficiency as one of the resources in their portfolio of demand and supply options. But as utilities pointed out the unintended consequence of lost revenues, regulators took two approaches: 1) allowing utilities to recoup a portion of lost revenue, and 2) having utilities essentially “decouple” the business of providing energy efficiency programs from the business of selling energy (natural gas or electricity). Decoupling essentially eliminated the disincentive for utilities to promote programs that reduced sales.
IPMVP, EM&V and the Uniform Methods Project
Ever since energy efficiency policies and programs were first launched, the industry and regulators alike have had to address the question of how to measure energy savings. Thus was born the field of evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V). While methods for assessing the costs and benefits of energy efficiency measures emerged from places such as California (Standard Practice Manual), and billing analysis tools were designed including Princeton’s Scorekeeping Model (PRISM), a virtual quilt of evaluation methods developed with regulators across the U.S. The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol, started in the 1990s, was the industry’s attempt to harmonize the latest and best EM&V methods that utilities and other energy service providers could agree on for assessing project level impacts. The DOE took matters in its own hands with the Uniform Methods Project in the 2010s, where a set of protocols for determining savings from energy efficiency measures and programs was developed by a team of industry scientists. All these tools continue to provide the backbone to how we value investments in energy efficiency today, with modifications continually being applied to recognize impacts beyond energy such as those associated with greenhouse gas emissions and other non-energy impacts (NEIs).
People & Institutions
Amory Lovins & the Rocky Mountain Institute
Amory Lovins is credited as the one who in 1989 coined the term “Negawatts,” a negative megawatt or a megawatt of power that does not have to be produced because of increasing efficiency or reducing consumption. As Chairman Emeritus and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a think tank for efficiency which he founded in 1982 with his then-wife Hunter, the Lovins promote a “soft path” supporting efficiency and renewable energy over fossil fuels and nuclear. He is a physicist and industry game changer because he radically challenged the incremental efficiency gains being made up to the 1990s and continues to challenge policymakers today to be more aggressive in our energy saving goals, particularly with the threat of climate change. Throughout his career, Lovins has taken the scientific approach to showing us that significant long-lasting change in the efficiency of appliances and equipment is possible. For example, Lovins put his scientific mind behind his claims -- inventing high efficiency demonstration products such as the hypercar and the ultra-efficient refrigerator.
National Laboratories: LBNL, NREL et AL
Many of our most lauded inventions around energy efficiency were conceived in the lab, mostly, the national laboratories. These include the buildings and appliance research done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the policy and EM&V research of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the technology developments out of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Art Rosenfeld launched the Energy Efficient Buildings Program at University of California - Berkeley which eventually evolved into the Center for Building Science at LBNL. The Center focuses on how to make everyday appliances energy efficient and how to reduce energy consumption and costs in buildings. Funded through the U.S. Department of Energy, each of the national labs has served as important incubators for basic research.
Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations (REEOs)
Following the founding of the Association of Demand-side Management Professionals (former name of AESP) in 1990, groups started forming at the regional level in recognition that one size does not fit all when it comes to energy policy and programs. Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations or REEOs acknowledge the regional nature of energy markets (e.g., energy sources, end uses of energy and regulation) as being important to moving the efficiency ball forward. For example, homes in the Northeast are heated with oil so weatherization was an important early focus of efficiency programs there, whereas southern regions are concerned with air conditioning loads, making demand response programs important. These entities carry out work funded through various sources such as utility consortia, federal agencies and various advocacy groups, to support policy development, program design and implementation. Most importantly, they serve as important regional knowledge transfer and networking platforms for energy efficiency professionals closer to home.
Jim Rogers, former Duke Energy CEO
Jim Rogers was one of the industry’s most visionary utility company CEOs and was one of the first leaders in the energy industry to speak about climate change and the changes needed to address it. He embraced sustainability and efficiency as important objectives. He not only talked the talk, but he led Duke Energy and its predecessor companies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and expand renewable energy investments. Jim was a model for many future generations of utility and energy services industry leaders to emulate.
Clark Gellings & EPRI
Clark Gellings was the first industry leader to get the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to formally embrace energy efficiency and demand side management as legitimate topics worthy of its attention. He was a game changer in that energy efficiency immediately moved from being a fringe topic directly to the forefront of issues warranting serious industry consideration. What had formerly been an exclusive club of supply and transmission scientists at EPRI, Gellings shifted the organization to address concerns of its members around the policy and regulatory shifts and opportunities around managing customer demand. In the 1980s Gellings enthusiastically led a diverse group of utility member representatives in the consideration of such topics as cost-benefit analyses, alteration of utility planning models to incorporate energy efficiency resources, to IRP and grid modernization. Based in part on his leadership, EPRI maintains research programs on customer-side of the meter issues including distributed and customer-sited generation, valuation of electrification measures, and efficient and emerging technologies on behalf of its members.
Long considered the “Father of Energy Efficiency,” Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld was a physicist and visionary that helped launch an entire industry from his cluttered desk at the University of California at Berkeley. Rosenfeld was a tireless proponent of energy conservation, challenging traditional practices around energy consuming appliances, lighting and buildings as well as the roles of stakeholders such as utilities, the federal government and regulators i.e. the entire universe of entities, technologies and behaviors that, until he came along, promoted wasteful energy using practices. He singlehandedly pushed our collective conscience toward finding ways to do more with less energy, and more importantly to consider the environmental and financial consequences of inaction.
Bill LeBlanc is an energy services industry veteran, currently the Chief Instigation Agent at E Source. He is an innovator in the utility-customer space, bringing concepts such as design thinking, behavior change, DSM bidding, and customer segmentation to the forefront of utility offerings. LeBlanc was the founding president of AESP in 1990, when he saw a need for a professional home for DSM practitioners. His specialty throughout his career has been customer engagement. He created Powerwalking man-on-the-street videos in 2006, which through reality and humor, helps utilities understand what regular people know and think about energy issues from their perspectives, and how far off we often are at understanding their wants and needs. His engaging presentations bring home the fact that energy service providers need to continually take the pulse of regular people – not nameless “ratepayers” - in order to design better human-centered products and services.
One of the primary levers of influence for how people use energy is through price – the cost per kWh or therm that’s tied to each unit of electricity or gas that we use. Faruqui knows all about rates and has built a career around experimenting with ways to redesign utility rates to address policy and business objectives. He is an economist and senior member of the Brattle Group, where he continues to consider customer rate design, load management, the valuation of distributed energy resources and demand forecasting. More recently he is working on the issue of electrification, or the promotion of electric technologies for new and replacement uses over fossil fuel alternatives, and how to value the benefits therefrom. Dr. Faruqui was part of California's experiment with dynamic pricing in the early 2000s and continue to research the economic levers for securing our sustainable energy future.
Ralph Cavanagh & NRDC
Cavanagh is an attorney and “professional agitator” for energy efficiency and was instrumental in founding the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC has been a fierce defender of environmental causes, educating regulators and policymakers and intervening in utility rate cases to promote utility investment in reducing energy consumption over building more power plants to meet ever increasing demands for energy. Cavanagh and his colleagues at NRDC provided the legal points of leverage for regulators to directly drive utility planning toward energy efficiency programs and policies. Such concepts as Least Cost Planning and Integrated Resource Planning were heavily influenced by his work and have become a legacy to his tireless promotion of energy efficiency.
How the list was compiled
In the fall of 2019, AESP polled its members, asking them to nominate a list of the most important developments, technologies and entities that have shaped the energy efficiency industry in the past 30 years. All these submissions were compiled, ranked, then further reviewed by a selected panel of industry veterans and longtime AESP members – to arrive at the final list. AESP is grateful to member Luisa Freeman who volunteered her time to research and write the descriptions for each of the 30 game changers you see here.
About Luisa M. Freeman
Luisa M. Freeman has more than 30 years of experience in energy efficiency, renewable energy technology and distributed generation program planning and evaluation for government and private industry clients. She has served on the boards of the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative and local chapters of AESP. She holds degrees in Economics and Economic Geography and was most recently a Senior Principal Consultant at DNV GL Energy Services. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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