Highlights from AESP's 20th National
Conference & Expo
By: Alison Williams, Opinion Dynamics Corporation
AESP's 20th National Conference & Expo took place last month in Tucson,
Arizona. A lively tone was set early, with mariachis greeting bright,
shining faces (or bedraggled ones in the case of the few D.C.-area
attendees who actually avoided the snow and managed to arrive on time) and
Rick Morgan (Morgan Marketing Partners), as announcer, jovially inspiring
everyone to get up from their chairs to look for prizes – prizes that kept
coming throughout the week.
The more serious side of the conference began with Paul Bonavia, CEO of
this year's host utility, Tucson Electric Power, who discussed the opportunities
for solar in Tucson. The focus then quickly shifted to energy efficiency
and demand-side management. Bill LeBlanc, the visionary and founding
president of what has become AESP, detailed the group's history (20 years!)
and the opportunities ahead: trying to meet ambitious energy efficiency
goals through techniques such as on-bill financing, building commissioning,
marketing, behavior change, community partnerships, and refocusing
evaluation processes toward program improvements and marketing effects .
In the keynote address, Ralph Cavanagh,
co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, focused on the need
to provide utilities with a business model that works to encourage and not
penalize energy efficiency, including 1) cost recovery, 2) earnings
opportunities for energy efficiency performance, and 3) a break in the link
between financial health and increased energy use, such as instituting
decoupling along with the yearly reassessment and true-up of rates.
A consistent theme discussed during conference sessions was the growth and
use of marketing, and social marketing in particular. Tom DuBos (Apogee
Interactive) described the marketing opportunities presented by RSS feeds,
YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. He emphasized that the question should not
be "Should I be on social media?" but rather "Do
conventional media meet all my needs?" Lynn Belkin (Focus on Energy)
cautioned that marketing on social media cannot stand on its own, requires
time and intention, and must stay true to the brand. Mike Schifman
(KCP&L) presented a Web portal for trade allies, which gives
contractors opportunities to interact and obtain customized information –
increasing recruitment and decreasing reporting and rebate payment issues.
Bill LeBlanc moderated a panel that
reviewed key marketing issues facing the industry, including the historical
dependence on rebates as the sole marketing effort to engage customers in
energy efficiency. Rebates were termed "a blunt instrument" that
should be integrated with other efforts to overcome barriers. Alternatives
to rebates were proposed, including focusing on consumer behavior and
segmentation (addressed in presentations by Caroline Wilson of Opinion
Dynamics and Duane Larson of PG&E), calling rebates incentives, and using
rebates upstream in concert with marketing efforts directed toward
retailers and distributors. However, the consensus was that focusing on
marketing efforts will be an uphill battle, as rebates are the easiest way
to attribute program savings.
Luckily, many presenters had ideas for how to attribute savings to
non-rebate programs. Rafael Friedmann (PG&E) discussed the difficulties
of attributing impacts from upstream programs when many retailers are
trying to be green, markets are often national, and the market changes so
quickly. However, evaluation can happen if it focuses on where the program
intervenes, captures data early and thoroughly, uses a variety of
qualitative and quantitative methods, and includes market effects. Rob
Russell (NEEA) also emphasized the need for using multiple methods and data
sources when evaluating programs designed to transform the market. Brian
Coble (Advanced Energy) evaluated the differences in performance between
ENERGY STAR, code-built, and Guaranteed Performance homes in the Houston
area. Program homes performed as expected, but resulted in only 2 percent
to 4 percent savings over code-built homes, as the programs also
transformed the market, reducing energy use by 16 percent over five years.
Although evaluation found this effect, currently there is no provision for
attributing the market transformation savings to these programs.
Further complicating energy efficiency efforts are greenhouse gas
objectives. Not all energy efficiency programs reduce greenhouse gases
equally, noted Lisa Skumatz (SERA), and some energy efficiency programs or
efforts to reduce peak use may actually increase greenhouse gas emissions
depending on the fuel mix, noted Kenneth Skinner (Integral Analytics).
However, more than 1,000 municipalities have begun to develop ambitious
climate action goals. Derrick Rebello (QuEST) noted that one new type of
program to use energy efficiency to meet these goals is PACE (Property
Assessed Clean Energy) financing, which enables debt to stay with the
property rather than the person.
Other timely topics in the sessions
included the smart grid, pricing and demand response, renewable energy, and
policy changes such as ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of
2009) and EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which
requires a 30 percent increase in lighting efficiency by 2014). The
conference also offered ample opportunities for networking, from the topic
committee meetings to the evening receptions to breaks in the expo hall.
Expo bingo provided an opportunity for the shy (or greedy) among us to meet
new contacts. And participants also got to kick up their heels with a night
of line dancing, steer roping, and gun shooting.
The conference concluded with a call to action by Harvey Michaels (MIT).
After Katherine Johnson outlined the state of the industry, including $13
billion in funding from ARRA, Michaels noted that with this money and at
the present time, the energy efficiency movement has everyone's attention.
It is up to us to apply our skills and expertise to successfully take
advantage of this opportunity.
AESP Awards Outstanding Achievement in
By: Kisha Gresham, AESP
AESP proudly announced winners of its 2010 Energy Awards during a very
exciting plenary session at its 20th National Conference & Expo. AESP's
Energy Award recognizes those who have contributed to the advancement of
the energy services field; raised awareness of an energy services program;
represented the "best in class" in designing, implementing, or
evaluating an energy services program; or demonstrated an outstanding
commitment to advancing the energy services field.
Award recipients included:
Energy Program Design & Implementation
- Energy Trust of Oregon's New Homes Program
- Puget Sound Energy's Duct Ninja and Rock the BulbTM
- ComEd's Energy Usage Data System Program
- Pacific Gas & Electric's Business and Consumer
- Toronto Hydro's Get Smart Toronto Time-of-Use Program
Pricing and Demand
- PowerCentsDC's Smart Meter Pilot Program
- Southern California Edison's Participating Load
- OPOWER's Home Energy Reporting Platform
One of the highlights of AESP's awards
ceremony came when current board member and longtime supporter of AESP
Katherine Johnson received the much-deserved B. H. Prasad Award for
Outstanding Contributor of the Year. "I want to express my deep
appreciation and heartfelt thanks for receiving the B. H. Prasad Award from
AESP," said Katherine Johnson. She continued, "It has been a
privilege to work with the board, staff, and members of AESP during the
past few years, and I know AESP will continue its outstanding efforts to
serve energy services professionals."
AESP wishes to thank the topic committees for taking the time to review and
score this year's awards. To read more about the award-winning programs, go