Evergreen issues like customer engagement, quality assurance and program evaluation appeared alongside newer issues like electric vehicles, energy storage and smart buildings. If a theme ran through the event it was that utilities must look forward and plan for what is coming next. The industry must grapple with changing demographics, technologies that are altering the customer-utility dynamic and maturing strategies and policies that make energy and cost savings goals harder to reach.
If these issues ring a bell, browse the RMUEE presentations to learn more about how your colleagues are preparing for the future. Then you can save the date of Sept. 19-21, 2018, to join them in person at the 12th annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange.
Sign up to receive notices of upcoming events, including the Call for Presenters for the 12th RMUEE in January 2018.
Rolling into its second decade, the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange has now been around long enough for its many participants to see the fruits of meeting annually to swap program ideas and stories of successes and failures with colleagues from across the region.
Forward-looking agenda This year’s theme, “Initiatives worth Imitating,” focuses on using lessons learned from past programs to address the new issues and opportunities utilities are facing. Programs incorporating time-of-use rates, community solar, the internet of things and big data will be in the spotlight. Sessions will also cover new spins on demand response, customer outreach, behavior change and incentive programs.
“Technology often integrates tools and strategies that were part of successful energy-efficiency and load management programs in the past,” explained Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman. “Load management today and going forward requires updates and changes in approach that will maximize the new resources and technology that are constantly being introduced to the industry. This year’s agenda encourages that kind of thinking.”
The future is on the minds of keynote speakers, too. Mark Martinez, the senior portfolio manager for emerging markets and technologies with Southern California Edison will deliver the opening keynote, Preparing Today for an Integrated Demand Side Management Future. He will draw on his more than 25 years of experience in the design, management and evaluation of electric demand side management (DSM) programs to present a vision of how DSM needs to change.
The closing keynote by Ellen Steiner, the vice president of Opinion Dynamics, will explore how utility customer programs can adapt to meet the needs of changing demographics. A master methodologist, Steiner has strong energy-efficiency industry experience encompassing workforce education and training, marketing, community outreach and HVAC program design and evaluation.
Friday offers a special treat with a focus on electric vehicles and storage. These topics were overwhelmingly popular at the 2017 Utility Energy Forum in California, and Rocky Mountain area utilities will be facing the same issues sooner than we expect.
Network toward your goals If the sessions are a great way to explore the nuts and bolts of program design and delivery, the networking opportunities let you take the pulse of the regional industry.
In addition to breaks and meals (pack your “comfortable” business casual wear), attendees will have plenty of time to mingle with their colleagues and swap ideas. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, grab a snack and a beverage and check out the poster session reception. These mini-presentations allow attendees to talk one-on-one with presenters about topics as diverse as community solar, connected home devices and infrastructure planning.
Relaxed networking continues Thursday night at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen. This venue provides a low-key atmosphere where it is easy to carry on a conversation. If you hatch dinner plans at the end of the evening, the city’s world-class dining options are close by, or, you can catch an airport shuttle from the hotel lobby if need to depart early.
Enjoy Aspen Of course, it would be a shame to cut your conference experience short, between the intriguing Friday sessions and the pleasures of September in the Rockies. We can’t promise good weather, but, most years, the days have sparkled with sunshine and fall colors and the nights have been crisp and clear.
Aspen Meadows Resort is now sold out, but you can still stroll the grounds. The city is close enough that you could park your car at your hotel and walk off the delicious meals—included in your registration fee—on your way to and from the conference.
WAPA customers are known for creating initiatives worth imitating, and we would like you to share yours for the 11th Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange(RMUEE). Proposals for sessions are due Feb. 27, and the Advisory Committee is particularly interested in topics from utilities and government agencies addressing this year’s theme, “Initiatives Worth Imitating.”
Power providers are taking residential, commercial and industrial programs to a whole new level using imagination to create new offerings, innovation to improve existing programs and integration to break down the silos of thinking. Your successes should be on the agenda when more than 100 utility and government representatives and trade allies meet in Aspen, Colorado, Sept. 27-29.
Conference attendees will be exploring case study best practices and lessons learned about programs related to energy and water efficiency issues and integration with renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management. Special consideration will be given to suggestions for sessions that address:
New energy-efficiency and demand-management technology
Strategic onsite energy and distribution system management
Workforce culture and program staffing challenges
Indoor growers and other commercial customer segments at the water/energy nexus
Electric vehicle charging, energy storage and other new end-use applications
You may choose a format for your presentation from several options:
General or breakout sessions up to 20 minutes in length with Q&A
Snapshot panel talks up to five minutes in length
Poster discussions during the Wednesday evening reception
Workshops or Roundtable Discussions two to four hours in length (for Friday morning)
There is also more than one way to participate. If you have never attended the RMUEE and don’t yet have a program to share, you could be eligible for one of a limited number of scholarships. Or maybe you would like to sponsor the event, a great way to promote your organization. Learn more about these options from the FAQ sheet.
Whatever your level of participation in the RMUEE, you will enjoy an outstanding learning and networking experience in a relaxed atmosphere conducive to sharing. You may even turn this year’s inspiration into next year’s “boffo” presentation.
Changes and challenges are coming to the utility industry in 2017, along with plenty of new tools and innovative approaches you can use to not only manage but master the shifting landscape. Here are some upcoming workshops and courses to help you prepare for what the New Year has in store:
Storage batteries have been around for a while, but integrating them into transmission and distribution systems is new territory for electric utilities. Until recently, it was difficult to make a business case for investing in utility-scale storage. However, the integration of more intermittent and non-dispatchable resources into utility portfolios is changing the cost-benefit equation. Storage batteries provide high-speed response, controllability, modularity, scalability, expandability, flexibility and transportability—exactly the attributes utilities are going to need for the foreseeable future.
This seminar provides an overview and guided tour of proven battery technologies from different manufacturers, challenges of interconnection, investment requirements, typical storage battery power purchase agreements, settlement equations and investment guidelines. The seminar materials cover the full spectrum of applications for utilities, regulatory agencies, project developers, private investors, finance firms, wholesale market participants and owners of wind and solar power plants.
Load forecasting has always been an invaluable tool for helping utilities manage uncertainty. But pre-computer era forecasting practices do not account for a host of bewildering conditions that now affect electricity use. Changes in the mix of supply- and demand-side resources, the impact of technology on the grid and access it allows to system and customer data and dramatic shifts in commodity prices are just a few of the factors that traditional methodologies are failing to capture.
Fortunately, new forecasting methods have been developed to address challenges such as demand forecasting, renewable generation forecasting and price forecasting. This course offers an introduction to modernized forecasting principles, practices and their applications in the utility industry. It will be loaded with examples and illustrations that translate these methodologies into the resulting utility practices.
Attendees will get the essential tools for making sense of today’s power environment and delivering proper guidance for industry decision-makers. An IACET credit is also available for this class.
“Destination Innovation” is the theme of the 27th annual conference of the Association for Energy Services Professionals. This event draws top program managers, policy makers, implementers, marketers, evaluators, consultants and vendors in energy efficiency. The extensive agenda will cover the range of current topics in marketing, tools and technology, implementation, program design, research, evaluation and more.
In addition to speaker presentations, panel discussions and networking events, this year’s conference offers pre-conference training courses. Attendees can either focus on program planning, design and implementation or brush up on their critical thinking skills, while earning .5 CEU.
New and innovative versions of property-assessed clean energy (PACE) legislation and programs are gaining support across the country. Learn more about this 100-percent voluntary strategy to fund energy upgrades to buildings while creating jobs, increasing property value and making progress on state policy goals. The second annual Summit will offer an in-depth look into the growth in residential PACE financing, new PACE products, strategies and programs in development and more.
Newcomers and PACE practitioners alike can will benefit from the opening workshop, PACE 101 Workshop. Presentations will cover legislation to project implementation, including best practices in legislation, local ordinances, program design, financing options, marketing to building owners and training of contractors. Add a wide range of sessions led by PACE experts and an abundance of networking opportunities, and you have a crash course on a valuable tool for growing energy efficiency in your community.
Program development and networking are central to the Utility Energy Forum, now in its 37th year. The sessions will challenge traditional thinking and ask attendees how they are preparing for a different energy utility industry than the one they knew.
This year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology,” is appropriate not only for our industry, but also for the new location. The Hilton Sonoma, in Santa Rosa near California’s wine country, will host the forum. What hasn’t changed, however, are the sessions “ripped from today’s headlines” (or rather, from our daily experiences), the outstanding speaker roster, and the abundance of networking opportunities. WAPA Energy Services representatives will be there, too, and we look forward to some face-to-face time with our customers.
This first-of-its-kind event focuses on creating utility products, services and experiences for the customer of today and tomorrow. Forward-thinking utility leaders and experts from outside the utility space will explore innovative approaches and design-oriented experiences from a variety of industries to demonstrate how these strategies can be applied at utilities. E Design 2020 askes attendees to leave their comfort zone, uncover high-potential partnerships and discover ways to embrace technological changes that will affect residential and non-residential customers.
After introducing attendees to the design-oriented approach, the comprehensive agenda covers distributed energy, demand-side management, energy services, technology and targeted customer programs. The event highlights empathetic thinking to discover customers’ underlying needs and find new ways of developing products and services that will turn customers into allies.
You can also download materials from the Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference (BECC), presented annually by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The conference looks at human behavior and decision-making and how to use the knowledge to accelerate the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future. The session abstracts and some PowerPoint presentations are available for free, or you can buy the full proceedings.
This is the time to let ACEEE know what you would like to see on the 2017 BECC agenda. ACEEE will issue the call for abstracts Feb. 10 for presentations that:
Identify key lessons about behavior and decision making that advance energy/climate solutions
Help integrate research insights throughout the value chains of energy-using goods and services
Expand support for social science research as applied to the biggest contributors to today’s energy challenges
Facilitate knowledge accumulation, exchange and collaboration across analytical approaches from micro to macro (e.g., individual, group, organizational, societal behavior, and decision making)
To say that the utility landscape has changed since 2007 is a laughable understatement—new technologies, new regulations, new customer expectations and economic ups and downs challenge our industry like never before. But the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, now in its tenth year, provides attendees with a touchstone for the evolution of their customer efficiency programs.
It seems like only yesterday that 92 Colorado utility program staff and allies gathered at Aspen Meadows Resort for the first Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange. Programmable thermostats were basically timers that controlled your furnace and there was little or no talk of micro-grids or data analytics. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) were state-of-the-art lighting technology and the centerpiece of many a utility energy efficiency initiatives.
Learning to share In fact, the event grew out of a meeting UtilityExchange.org Executive Director Ed Thomas attended at Platte River Power Authority on the possibility of coordinating a statewide CFL retailer point-of-purchase promotion. Adam Perry, Platte River’s customer services supervisor for energy efficiency, had just moved to Colorado from Oregon where he was accustomed to working with multiple utilities on customer programs. “I thought it was that way across the country,” Perry admitted. “I wondered where Colorado utilities got together to talk to their peers about their programs and collaborate on regional programs. I soon found out that venue didn’t exist.”
The meeting also included Jeff Rice, then utilities efficiency specialist for the city of Aspen. Thomas asked the two if their utilities would be interested in supporting an event where program managers could exchange ideas on energy-efficiency programs and learn from each other. “The hope was that sharing would lead to regional and statewide partnerships and collaboration,” explained Perry. “Looking back I can say that RMUEE has allowed me to build great friendships and relationships with my utility program peers. Being able to share ideas and our successes and failures in energy-efficiency program design and implementation has really benefitted both me and my utility.”
The city of Aspen became the event host, in no small part because Rice had just received an energy-efficiency mandate and had no idea where to start. Gas utilities were also being required to launch demand-side management (DSM) efforts, and their program managers were equally eager to learn from others. Returning attendees acknowledge that their programs did, indeed, make “progress through poaching.” Jim Dillon, Black Hills Energy senior manager for energy efficiency, has attended several exchanges over the years. “We feel that the ability to collaborate with our peers is instrumental in building a quality energy-efficiency portfolio that serves all customer classes and moves customers down the energy efficiency pathway,” he said.
Attendees, issues have staying power The event grew, attracting attendees from the wider region, and the name changed in 2011 to Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange to reflect this inclusive approach. This year, more than 120 attendees—many familiar faces—are expected to come together to grapple with underlying questions that are also all too familiar: How do we meet mandates? How do we increase the efficiency of the building stock? How do we educate and engage customers? How do we fund programs? How does new technology fit into the bigger picture?
The agenda puts a 2016 spin on these timeless issues, starting with a round table discussion based on topics suggested in a survey you can submit in advance (by Sept. 23). Presentations on Wednesday, Sept. 28, focus on teaching customers to take control of their energy use and integrating the most effective approaches to meet aggressive energy-efficiency goals. A case study on a good, old-fashioned municipal lighting upgrade—now with LED [light-emitting diode] technology—wraps up the first day’s sessions.
The popular dual-track schedule on Thursday morning allows attendees to switch between residential- and commercial-focused sessions. On the residential side, speakers will share their experiences designing, financing, marketing and delivering programs to help homeowners save energy. Aspen Utilities Efficiency Specialist Ryland French will talk about the city’s participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition. The commercial track will cover strategies for motivating different types of business customers and ways to increase their satisfaction. The afternoon offers program snapshots and a look at market transformation and financing models.
Bryan Hannegan of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Ben Bixby, energy products director for Nest Labs, will deliver the keynote speeches. Hannegan, NREL’s associate lab director for energy systems integration, will talk about integrating electricity, fuel, thermal, water and communication networks to achieve a more sustainable society. Bixby’s keynote will explore business models and partnering strategies for utilities. Sneak Peek Preview webinars were conducted with the keynotes and advisory committee in August and the archived recordings are available on the event home page.
Eat! Drink! Network! One feature that helps to keep the RMUEE fresh and growing is that as much “exchanging” happens outside the sessions as during. Presentations are where the conversations begin, but they continue, deepen and expand during refreshment breaks, meals and receptions.
Wednesday night’s poster reception is like a private presentation where you can question the speaker one-on-one, with a beverage and snack in hand. The Thursday night networking event at the Limelight in Aspen is a chance to mix it up with the rest of the attendees in an even more relaxed setting.
Other things that haven’t changed in 10 years include:
The food at Aspen Meadows Resort is still delicious
Aspen is still beautiful in the fall
Dress is still casual (leave the tie at home)
WAPA Energy Services representatives will be there
Yes, the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange gives us a chance to meet with you, our customers, in one place. We catch up on what is happening in your world, answer questions you might have and learn from you. Every year since 2007, we have returned from the RMUEE, impressed with your innovative ideas and commitment to doing the best for your communities. And we look forward to seeing what the next decade brings. See you in Aspen!
Update: A preview of the closing keynote by Ben Bixby of Nest Labs has been added Aug. 31, 10:30-11 a.m. MT.
Register for this free webinar. If you are unable to participate, the recorded webinars will be archived on the RMUEE website.
Aug. 17 10:30-11:00 a.m. MT
Thinking about joining Energy Services at the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, Sept. 28-30 in Aspen, Colorado? Good idea! This free webinar gives you the opportunity to discover whether this event is right for you and consider who else in your organization might benefit from attending.
Bryan Hannegan, associate laboratory director – energy systems integration with National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will speak about “The Challenge and Promise of Energy Systems Integration” as part of the Exchange’s theme of “Where Will Utilities be in 10 Years?” Hannegan leads NREL’s global initiative to optimize links between electricity, fuel, thermal, water and communication networks for a more sustainable society.
If you were unable to attend the 36th annual Utility Energy Forum at Lake Tahoe, California, you can find out what everyone was talking about. Download presentations from industry experts, researchers, decision makers and, most importantly, your peers. Utility business models, smart technology, distributed energy resources and customer programs were among the topics attendees discussed.
Of course, studying the presentations won’t be the same as joining other utility program managers and energy services and marketing professionals to share your challenges and successes, but there is always next year. There is also the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange in Aspen, Colorado, Sept. 28-30.
The event was a great success with 150 of your colleagues sharing stories of customer program successes and challenges. We hope you will find ideas, solutions and inspirations in the presentations—especially the inspiration to join us in Aspen next year for the 10th RMUEE!
Maybe it is the debate over the administration’s clean power plan or Tesla’s announcement of a new consumer energy storage system or the media buzz around the “Internet of things.” Whatever the reason, consumers—both residential and commercial—are thinking and talking more about energy use and management. Despite a lot of gloomy prognosticating, that is good for utilities. Two upcoming conferences, one new and one established, can help you to turn this growing consumer interest in energy use to your advantage.
Spanning Western territory
The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange is now in its ninth year of bringing together utility program managers and industry allies to explore the many facets of energy-efficiency programs. Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado, will host conference veterans and newcomers Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 for in-depth discussion, discovery and networking.
Hear from leaders
Western customers are involved in both events, so you can expect to hear a frontline perspective on program creation, management and evaluation. The City of Aspen Utilities, Holy Cross Energy and Platte River Power Authority are long-time sponsors of RMUEE. Representatives from those utilities will moderate panels and give presentations alongside many other Western customers.
Event sponsors Peak Load Management Association (PLMA) and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) chose speakers with hands-on experience in creating and implementing demand response (DR) and demand-side management (DSM) programs. Gary Connett, demand-side management director at Great River and PLMA member noted that cooperatives and municipal utilities are leaders in load management. “They are a great resource for power providers who are just getting their programs started.”
Start your programs right
The event is specifically for utilities that are new to DSM and DR, added Connett. “The workshop is designed for people who are considering their first program and are looking for models and ideas,” he explained. “Attendees will learn the fundamentals of each strategy, the benefits and how to implement a program.”
Introduction to Demand Response is a good place for newcomers to begin. The one-day course provides a comprehensive overview of demand response topics. Current issues will be explored from the perspectives of utilities, retail energy providers, customers, independent system operators, and other demand response technology and services providers.
After a day of intensive training, attendees can unwind at a networking reception on the roof of MEEA headquarters. There is nothing like sipping, nibbling and chatting with colleagues in the presence of one of America’s great skylines to get the ideas flowing. The Wednesday workshop, “Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest,” is tailored to the specific goals and challenges facing midwestern utilities. The first two sessions separately address DR and energy-efficiency professionals, and the third covers program models that successfully combine the two points of view.
You may register for all three events as a package or in any combination, including just the reception. Hotel accommodations must be reserved separately and are not included in event registration.
Efficiency issues, conference evolve
Much has changed and much has stayed the same in nearly a decade of talking energy efficiency at RMUEE. Stubborn challenges persist, such as program evaluation, reaching low-income customers and creating a trusted contractor pool, although each year brings clever and creative local solutions. On the positive side, utilities can choose from a variety of mature behavior-based programs for engaging customers, and have plenty of data to make the selection easier.
Technology, always a hot topic, keeps challenging utilities to keep up with it. Lighting upgrades continue to offer the most bang for the buck, but LED, or light-emitting diode, lamps have displaced compact fluorescent lights as the state-of-the-art in efficiency. Automated systems to manage home energy use are still popular, but programmable thermostats seem almost quaint compared to smartphone apps that allow people to control multiple systems remotely. The cost of solar panels has dropped sharply in nine years, making distributed generation a more pressing issue, and carbon emissions regulations now seem closer than ever.
The RMUEE agenda covers all these topics and more, with presentations by your colleagues—the people who design and implement customer programs. You will also hear from trade allies who offer energy products and services and from government agencies that work with utilities to meet efficiency goals.
With so much experience in one place, networking usually turns out to be the star of the RMUEE. Attendees will have plenty of time to make new contacts and compare notes with old friends during meals, breaks and receptions. For a change of pace this year, the final day will be dedicated to outdoor teambuilding activities, including a guided hike and a bike ride to the Maroon Bells. That is, weather permitting, of course, but the fall weather in Aspen is generally cooperative.
There is still time to register for RMUEE, and rooms at the Sky Motel in Aspen are available at a special conference rate. The motel is only a short drive from the Aspen Meadows Conference Center, and will also host the Thursday evening reception.
The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange and the Midwest regional workshops differ in focus. One explores the broad range of customer efficiency programs while the other hones in on two specific strategies. The target audiences deal with different geographic challenges. But the events are tied by the belief that the real experts on the utility industry are the utilities themselves. We will discover all the expertise we need to deal with environmental, regulatory and technological changes if we just talk to our neighbors.
With more than 110 utility and energy industry professionals already packing their brief cases for the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange (RMUEE), you may want to take a look at the agenda to see what is attracting such a crowd to Aspen, Colo.
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!
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~Talks. 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,” 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 Group 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 Drama and Fiveworx.
James Mandel of the Rocky Mountain Institute 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.