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Energy efficiency utilities: what’s possible

Jim Madej, Chief Executive Officer -

December is generally a very active time at VEIC. We spend the month delivering projects for customers and clients, while finalizing plans for the year ahead. As a mission-driven organization, it’s also a time for us to reflect on what we’ve collectively achieved. We work closely with public and private partners to enhance the benefits of clean and efficient energy use for all people. This year, we’d particularly like to celebrate and thank the VEIC staff and partners that are driving deeper engagement and impact through our largest energy efficiency utility contracts: the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, Efficiency Smart in Ohio, and Efficiency Vermont. Together, we are creating new models for how to effect change.

DCSEU Refresh the District Skyland Community Day

Photo courtesy of DCSEU

DC: People. Power. Purpose.

In Fiscal Year 2018 the DCSEU turned in its strongest performance ever. This year’s substantial electricity and natural gas savings contribute significantly toward the District’s overall energy and climate change goals. How the DCSEU performs against its benchmarks tells only part of the story, though. Our impact goes well beyond megawatt-hour and MMBTU savings. Our work created tens of thousands of hours of work at DC’s Living Wage and put 21 unemployed or underemployed DC residents on a path to succeed in green careers through the DCSEU Workforce Development Program. We provided opportunities for local businesses to grow, including 15 certified business enterprises (CBEs). We also helped schools and small businesses reduce their energy costs, freeing up their budgeted dollars for the classroom or stronger staffing.

Ohio: Driving deeper savings

Since 2011, Efficiency Smart has served 54 of American Municipal Power's member utilities in four states through its Columbus, Ohio office. This year we added four communities in the state of Delaware, bringing the total to 58. We piloted a new high bill call service to help residential customers understand likely causes and potential solutions for high energy usage. We also enhanced outreach and technical services to small businesses. This has led to nearly a 50% increase in both customer incentives paid and MWh of electricity saved over 2017 results. By the end of 2018, Efficiency Smart is on track to reach nearly 110% of its participating communities’ annual MWh goals.

Vermont: Finding power in partnerships

At Efficiency Vermont we redoubled our efforts to collaborate with our partners in Vermont who share our goals, uniting resources to make us all stronger and more effective in serving Vermont. Our focus was threefold: first, to accelerate weatherization services – particularly to those who need it most – through low-interest financing, healthcare partnerships, coordination of a statewide weatherization campaign called Button Up Vermont, and the launch of a new DIY initiative that provides technical guidance and materials rebates for homeowners who weatherize their homes themselves. Second, working with our utility partners in support of their efforts in strategically electrifying energy use, and providing more value to businesses through innovative services and comprehensive energy management strategies. Third, to continue to push forward market transformation through strong partnerships and training opportunities for the entire supply chain, from manufacturers through distributors, retailers, and contractors. Efficiency Vermont also welcomed a new director, Rebecca Foster (formerly VEIC’s Director of Consulting) to lead the organization in providing even more benefit to all Vermonters.

The collective impact of energy efficiency

The benefits that energy efficiency utilities can offer are real and enduring: energy savings that help customers live and work better, GHG reductions that combat climate change, beneficial electrification that supports local and regional resiliency, and job creation and training that supports our communities and economy. Beyond that, non-energy measurable benefits can offer even more direct impact: a limited-income homeowner’s health improved by a weatherization project; a school’s ability to provide a better learning environment; a factory worker’s increased safety through better visibility on the production line. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together this year. Year-to-date we've served over 70,000 customers – and thousands more with upstream residential programs – through our DC, Ohio, and Vermont contracts. I'm also excited for the year ahead as we bring our expertise and learnings to existing and new projects. And with that, it’s back to work. Let’s make 2019 even better.

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