Ideas welcomed at 2014 Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

With more than 110 utility and energy industry professionals already packing their brief cases for the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency ExchangeRedirecting to a non-government site (RMUEE), you may want to take a look at the agenda to see what is attracting such a crowd to Aspen, Colo.

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel was a keynote speaker at the 2013 RMUEE. (Photo by RL Martin)

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel was a keynote speaker at the 2013 RMUEE. (Photo by RL Martin)

Admittedly, scheduling this popular conference for Sept. 24-26 puts it at the height of Colorado’s fall color season, but the real magnet is the diverse and packed agenda.

Now in its eighth year, the RMUEE is the regional conference for the people who design and deliver energy-efficiency programs to residential and business consumers. Look for utility and government program managers to share the speaker’s podium with trade allies who support those programs with cutting-edge products and services. Experts in marketing, finance and technology will weigh in on best practices alongside the people who turn the practices into action—and results!  

Something to talk about
Veterans of past RMUEEs are no doubt looking forward to lively discussions in which they are the “thought leaders.” Newcomers are always welcomed and may only need a little introduction to prepare for sharing their experiences, expertise and opinions with colleagues. The roundtable discussions that open the RMUEE on Wednesday morning are just the thing to put everyone at ease. Representatives from City of Aspen UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site, City of Fort Collins UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site, Platte River Power AuthorityRedirecting to a non-government site, Poudre Valley Electric CooperativeRedirecting to a non-government site and Colorado Springs UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site will stir up dialogue about the challenges that are most on attendees’ minds.

The afternoon sessions highlight specific topics including energy efficiency education, program integration and financing. While these presentations are more structured than roundtable discussions, questions, answers and observations are always encouraged.

The dual-track sessions on Thursday morning break down barriers even more with smaller group presentations. Choose between the residential track and the commercial track, but don’t be surprised to find yourself wishing you could be two places at once.  Don’t worry—you can ask your colleagues what you missed and fill them in on your session choices over lunch. In the afternoon, the whole group will reunite to talk about collaboration, system and building technology and program evaluation and evolution.

Friday brings a change of pace with the return of last year’s popular and fast-paced Switch~TalksRedirecting to a non-government site. Speakers have five minutes and 20 slides to share their thoughts on energy efficiency, renewable resources, the latest technology or anything else that interests them. The RMUEE closes with a screening of the documentary “Watershed,”Redirecting to a non-government site about the management of the Colorado River. This movie is a must-see for anyone who is involved in the delivery of electricity or water in the dry Rocky Mountain region.

And that’s not all
You will undoubtedly hear comments during the sessions that call for more discussion, but proceedings have to move along. Hold those thoughts for the leisurely meals, refreshment breaks and social hours scattered liberally throughout the RMUEE. Any past attendee will tell you that the networking opportunities are just as educational—and sometimes more so—than the formal presentations.

The poster session on Wednesday evening will introduce some new ideas in tasty, bite-sized portions, along with tasty, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres. Grab a beverage and a snack and quiz your colleagues about their mini-presentations on subjects ranging from heat pumps and building-manager training to social media and what it means to be an energy services provider.

Thursday night attendees repair to downtown Aspen to enjoy more socializing. Many a partnership and project have been hatched over a beer or a good meal at one of the city’s fine drinking and dining establishments.

Special guest stars
As usual, exciting keynote speakers will be contributing fresh insights and provocative points of view to the mix. Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton GroupRedirecting to a non-government site sustainability marketing firm returns as opening keynote speaker on Wednesday. Learn what Americans really think about energy efficiency and how those lessons applied to the firm’s recent campaigns, Avoid the Energy DramaRedirecting to a non-government site and FiveworxRedirecting to a non-government site.

James Mandel of the Rocky Mountain InstituteRedirecting to a non-government site will speak on Thursday about the institute’s partnership with the city of Fort Collins to reduce carbon emissions on a community-wide level. The groundbreaking project is yielding, among other things, a new business model for utilities of the future.

Clearly, the program committee, which includes several Western customers as well as Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, is not afraid to lay the ideas on thick. The RMUEE is where program managers can take a break from the daily challenge of keeping the lights on to imagine their utility’s future. We hope to see you, and your ideas, in Aspen.