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AESP's 2020 Annual Conference: Three Takeaways

I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Energy Service Professionals’ (AESP’s) Annual Conference in February. The mission of AESP is to “[advance] the [energy] industry through professional development, networking, and supporting for a resilient, sustainable energy future.

At this year’s conference, the definition of a “resilient, sustainable energy future” went well beyond energy efficiency and demand response to include integrated demand-side management (iDSM), electrification, decarbonization and dynamic pricing. Plus, beyond technical sessions, colleagues tackled topics on supplier diversity, channel marketing, program designs, professional development and mentorship. It was a very well-rounded conference with content where anyone could find a topic of interest.

AIQUEOUS Standouts

Among the sessions that stood out to me included:

  • Advanced Channel Marketing - through my work with Ameren Illinois I have become more aware and engaged on underserved communities, and Kristol Simms of Ameren and Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Services provided a great overview on the importance of diverse trade allies and market channels (e.g., Black Chambers of Commerce) in garnering participation in these communities. Additionally, Karen Germain of DNV-GL provided a great presentation on Trade Ally Advisory Councils and how this strategy can improve “channel dialogue, promotional offers, and market analysis.”

  • Whole Home Gas DSM - my prior understanding of “whole-home” programs was that they were expensive and had limited participation, however, Patrick McMahon of Summerhill and Joe Nunley of Performance Systems Development both had examples on how to deliver cost-effective programs. Summerhill presented the Home Energy Plan by Energy Efficiency Alberta, which integrates with EnerGuide evaluators and pays customers based on actual energy savings. And Performance Systems Development presented data from Pennsylvania showing that offering smart thermostats during the audit phase of the program drove participation and increased conversion rates into whole-home retrofits.

  • Oh, Canada - finally, Raegan Bond (the new AESP Chair) facilitated a discussion (“The Puck Stops Here”) with leaders from Energy Efficiency Alberta, Efficiency Manitoba and Fortis BC. The commonalities and contrasts across the three organizations were striking, as is the sensitivity of their efforts to provincial politics. (It was also great to see the Canada contingent get excited about an Anaheim Ducks game on Wednesday night.)

AESP Moving Forward

I’m glad that the AESP Conference took place when it did, before travel restrictions and public gatherings may have canceled it. The AESP Annual Conference affords me an opportunity to catch up with colleagues, both long-time friends and new acquaintances. As important as it is to meet with potential clients and partners, I appreciated being able to talk to people I’ve known for a decade or more, both to see how their careers have evolved and to take advantage of their expertise and knowledge. There really is no substitute for this annual gathering.

And in light of recent developments with COVID-19, I want to put a plug for AESP’s virtual offerings as well. On its events page, AESP offers a number of webinars, with upcoming topics including overviews of the energy awards winners and Design Lights Consortium policy changes (to name just a couple). AESP also offers an e-learning portal to take better advantage of the organization’s knowledge.

AIQUEOUS continues to be an AESP Member and looks forward to both supporting and benefiting from the organization in the years ahead.

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