MEEA: Opening keynote

EDITOR’S NOTE: Correspondent Brian Rogal is covering the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance conference in Chicago. Click here for a complete archive of his posts.

The grand ballroom was packed for the opening keynote, with only a few folks coming in late.

Pramaggiore just began by saluting MEEA’s 10-year anniversary and pointing out that ComEd was a founding member. That set the tone of her speech which, as I expected, concentrated on touting ComEd’s achievements in pushing energy efficiency. She gave a quick overview of the utility’s 100-year history and quickly moved on to the need to develop a “new utility business model.”

The basic infrastructure of an electric utility, and the regulatory structure that governs it, has not changed, at least in essence, in the last 100 years. But now, the big steel mills and factories that used to be their big customers are gone, and today modern customers, armed with an array of new electronic gadgets, are demanding all sorts of EE options, and ComEd needs a new infrastructure, and a new regulatory structure, to build those out.

If I were to take away one thing from Pramaggiore, it’s her insistence, mentioned several times in what was a fairly short to-the-point speech, that ComEd will build in EE “not because anyone told us to do it,” but because modern-day customers want these environmentally-friendly options. She certainly did not state it explicitly, but I can hear a bit of a challenge in those words to those who would push EE and other environmental measures through state action, and force them on utilities like ComEd.

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