When members of the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) converged for the twenty-sixth annual national conference and expo in Phoenix, Ariz. in early February, we were hoping for warm temperatures as we escaped from colder climates. Unfortunately, we were met with cool, rainy weather outside, but inside it was Hot, Hot, Hot—the theme of this year’s gathering.
Conference attendees were fired up to hear the hot topics for the week: the future of energy efficiency programs and solutions. Attendees, lecturers and panelists discussed nearly every current issue under the sun, from retail lighting—where GE has announced that they will stop making and selling CFL bulbs by the end of the year—to micro-grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things (IoT), and a host of new methods to engage, geo-target and micro-target every utility customer.
Aside from residential customers and programs, we learned about new unique commercial engagement strategies to target small and medium sized businesses (SMB). Session hosts provided us with many examples of unique engagement strategies that clients can quickly act on, leading to impactful savings and verifiable results. In fact, this trend towards focused customer engagement strategies, in both residential and commercial programs, was by far a leading component of the conference. Various sessions highlighted a diverse set of tools, methods, and smart devices (including smart phone apps) to drive higher participation and improve customer satisfaction.
My next destination—the MEEA Midwest Energy Solutions Conference on February 24-26 in Chicago—probably won’t be any warmer but the topics should be just as enlightening. As is the trend in utilities nationwide, I’m certain we will continue to see a strong focus on the same topics presented at AESP, especially customer engagement strategies, lighting, intelligent devices and platforms that are poised to bring the “what’s next” to utilities in delivering energy efficiency programs.