Letter from the Chair

Introducing AESP's New Chair!

Carol White, Director, Evaluation & Regulatory Affairs, National Grid

AESP's 20th National Conference & Expo in Tucson, Arizona was an incredibly successful kickoff to begin my new term as AESP's chair. What a memorable event, and despite Mother Nature's snowy plans to cancel flights in the East, we had an outstanding turnout for this conference! From Ralph Cavanagh's inspiring keynote speech and the stimulating multitrack conference sessions to the filled-to-capacity expo hall and inventive networking events, this conference had it all. There were anniversary cakes, festive balloons, and even strolling mariachis to help commemorate this 20-year milestone in AESP's history.

This year, AESP's Energy Awards were presented during the opening session, and I want to personally congratulate all the winners. Your pioneering programs will undoubtedly motivate others to continue developing and implementing their own groundbreaking energy efficiency initiatives. Please join me in giving special recognition to Katherine Johnson of Johnson Consulting Group, who was the recipient of the prestigious B. H. Prasad Award. This industry award is given to individuals who have made a positive, long-lasting impact on AESP. For a complete list of the award winners, click here.

Offering post-conference training courses was also new this year, and based on the positive feedback, we will continue to offer these courses on a pre- and post-conference basis. The closing plenary featured Harvey Michaels from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His message underscored many of the key findings described in AESP's innovative State of the Industry Report. This comprehensive report, spearheaded by Katherine Johnson, is now available to members on AESP's Resource Library.

I look forward to my next two years in office with great anticipation. The energy industry is undergoing unparalleled growth on a global, national, and regional basis. I am excited to be part of the team that will help AESP successfully navigate through these challenges. Energy efficiency is here to stay as evidenced, in part, by the U.S. undertaking an unprecedented ramp-up in efficiency funding. According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), the nation's utilities increased spending on energy efficiency by 43 percent in 2009. In all, utilities spent $4.4 billion for electric energy efficiency and $930 million for natural gas programs, and 46 states now offer energy efficiency programs, up from 37 states in 2008.1

At AESP, we are poised and ready to help our members with their energy efficiency needs with topical conferences, training courses, Webinars, and much more.

In closing, my first message as AESP's chair is an important but simple one. I encourage you to get involved with AESP. There are many ways to make a difference and get the most out of your membership join a topic committee, start or join a local AESP chapter, submit abstracts for conferences, and/or suggest ideas for AESP's signature Brown Bags. The opportunities and benefits are endless. My column in April will outline more of my future plans for AESP, and I invite you to be a part of them.



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Featured Article

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 Energy Efficiency
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 Campaigns
  • ComEd's Energy Usage Data System Program
  • Pacific Gas & Electric's Business and Consumer Electronics Program

Marketing Communications

  • Toronto Hydro's Get Smart Toronto Time-of-Use Program

Pricing and Demand Response

  • PowerCentsDC's Smart Meter Pilot Program
  • Southern California Edison's Participating Load Pilot Program

Energy Efficiency Technology

  • 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 to