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AEE Institute on Industrial Energy Efficiency: Unleashing an Economic Driver for Illinois

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[Chicago, October 11, 2016] — Today, Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE Institute) convened a discussion with utility, advanced energy, and thought leaders to discuss the status and barriers of the industrial energy efficiency sector in Chicago and Illinois at large. This conversation is a follow-up to a discussion hosted on August 10 that highlighted the industrial efficiency sector and successful projects completed by energy service providers in Illinois. Increased communication with industrial users was a common theme echoed by many throughout the discussion. AEE Institute brought together fifteen leading thinkers in the energy industry to discuss the opportunities and challenges for industrial efficiency in Illinois. This roundtable was host at the offices of CLEAResult Consulting, a leader in helping utilities, business and individuals implement energy savings programs.

“The ongoing discussion taking place on a city and state level regarding planning for the 21st Century Electricity System is quickly transforming. It is more important than ever to discuss these changes along with the opportunities and challenges of incorporating advanced energy technology, such as industrial efficiency, to increase the value of the energy we use,” said J.R. Tolbert, Senior Director of State Policy, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business group affiliated with AEE Institute. “Collaborative, productive efforts like today’s roundtable allow for Illinois to take the lead on innovation of the energy sector — and benefit from savings, growth, and economic competitiveness.” 

The industrial sector is the largest user of energy, representing over 30 percent of total electricity usage in Illinois. Various technologies and services can make the use of energy in this industry more efficient. These include upgrades in motors, drives, and other equipment; industrial energy management systems, that analyze and manage energy consumption data within a production facility; demand response (DR) technologies that curtail energy use during periods of peak system demand; and combined heat and power (CHP), which produces both electricity and useful heat from the same fuel, either onsite or through CHP-powered district energy systems. An energy efficiency potential study prepared for Commonwealth Edison estimated that Illinois, by 2018, could easily achieve 5 percent cumulative achievable saving should cost caps remain in place. Without cost caps in place, Illinois would be able to 10 percent cumulative maximum potential if cost caps were lifted.

“There is an important role that industrial efficiency can play in Illinois that provides savings to both businesses and consumers, while spurring economic growth and local and state level,” said Ray Fakhoury, State Policy Associate, AEE. “Energy efficiency and demand response have saved consumers millions on the cost of energy. We thank today’s participants for coming together to identify opportunities and outcomes that could reduce barriers and increase participation and investments in energy efficiency.”

AEE Institute brought together energy service business, end-users, city and government officials, and thought-leaders to discuss opportunities to capitalize on innovative technologies that save energy for industrial users and potential policy outcomes. The discussion highlighted projects completed by energy service companies in Illinois, which have helped industrial customers make their facilities more efficient and competitive. Additionally, participants learned about technologies available to the industrial sector to increase their competitiveness and reduce their energy costs. The group focused primarily on challenges surrounding the industrial efficiency sector, including: financing projects, consumer awareness, and improving access to data.

“Data access and energy intelligence software (EIS) are vital tools that helps end users control their energy use in real-time and to actively manage their energy costs,” said Greg Poulos, Director, Regulatory Affairs, EnerNOC. “The ability to identify savings opportunities and work directly with energy experts provides business leaders with an added value proposition to participating in energy efficiency.” 

While Illinois continues to make significant progress on energy efficiency, more can be done to help all consumers. Illinois is presented with various opportunities for improving efficiency programs. An example of a policy measure that could be improved is the restructuring of the cost caps that dictate how much a utility is able to spend on energy efficiency programs. By improving the cost cap measure that is currently in place, utilities would be able to increase their investments in energy efficiency programs and achieve the efficiency goals, which the state is not currently reaching.

“Energy efficiency is a low-cost resource for meeting the state’s energy needs. It provides benefits to energy consumers and employs tens of thousands of Illinoisans in the manufacturing and installation of the products while saving Illinois’ largest companies thousands in energy costs. We hope that today’s conversation will open a dialogue between the region’s utilities, large energy consumers, government officials, and the companies that provide these valuable energy efficiency services,” concluded Tolbert.

For more information on the role and size of the energy efficiency sector in the United States, download Advanced Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Now 2016 Market Report. To learn more about various energy efficiency technologies, download This Is Advanced Energy, a comprehensive industry directory with descriptions, photos, and case study examples. 

About Advanced Energy Economy and AEE Institute
The Advanced Energy Economy Institute is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the public benefits and opportunities of advanced energy. AEE Institute provides critical data to drive the policy discussion on key issues through commissioned research and reports, data aggregation and analytic tools. AEE Institute also provides a forum where leaders can address energy challenges and opportunities facing the United States. AEE Institute is affiliated with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a 501(c)(6) business association, whose purpose is to advance and promote the common business interests of its members and the advanced energy industry as a whole. AEE and its state and regional partner organizations are active in 26 states across the country, representing more than 1,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy industry. Visit AEE Institute at https://www.aee.net/aeei and AEE online at https://www.aee.net/