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Rapid Reaction – my take on the 2019 AESP National Conference

While the Texas State Rodeo may not have been in town, the AESP provided a boot-stomping, cattle calling good time in the Alamo City. For four days, energy professionals from across North America gathered in San Antonio for the premier conference for Demand Side Management.  Through breakout sessions, networking events, and dinner at Bohanan’s, old friendships were rekindled, new relationships were cultivated, and all things energy were discussed.  While I had a blast facilitating the Innovation Workshop: Flying Cars and Receding Coastlines, it’s what I learned from others that made this event worthwhile. Read along to explore my three largest takeaways!

#1 – It’s all about the people

What a crowd – every attendee that I spoke with has passion for saving energy and pushing Demand Side Management to its next frontier. First, I’d like to give a special shout out to Bill Clemons of DTE (MI), who was presented this year’s prestigious B.H. Prasad Award for his continued dedication in promoting the goals of the AESP. Bill’s passion for saving energy is second to none, and his award is well deserved. Besides catching up with senior leaders like Bill, it was amazing to speak with and connect to the emerging professionals who are disrupting business as usual. As we move into a more connected world, it’s these future leaders who will guide the utility industry through the challenges and opportunities ahead.  And while the AESP presents an excellent opportunity to grow professional ties, it also offers ample opportunity to relax and catch up with others on a more personal level – like slamming a cheeseburger with your evaluator while swapping dog photos 😊

#2 – It’s not so much about the data, but what you do with it

While ‘Big Data’ is a common energy conference theme, the AESP homed in on how programs and implementors are acting on this data to drive better decisions. I think Joe Wadel of Consumers Energy (MI) hit it out of the park presenting on how his program leveraged data in designing their award-winning Small Business Marketplace. From soup to nuts, this innovative pilot used data in every phase of program design and delivery to exceed even expanded program goals. Kudos to my colleague Mike Krygier, and the entire Consumers Energy Pilot and Emerging Technologies team!

Speaking of big data — it’s easy to get lost in the noise, which made my colleague Ed Horn’s presentation on social listening very captivating. In terms of monitoring social media, there is just too much data for one person to handle. Ed laid out the fundamentals of how Programs can use advanced technology to monitor digital conversations to help spot specific trends.  I’m sold and am using my social listening license to help me filter through the noise to find better content about how the IoT is impacting mature utility programs.

#3 – Diversity matters

As a technologist, I typically gravitate towards the high-technical, pocket-protecting, hardcore engineering panels. However, I wanted to broaden my perspective, and was very happy I attended the Supplier Diversity Panel hosted by my colleague Steve Baab.  Diversity is not a fad, and while the utility industry has taken great strides over the past decade, such as Marvelene Jones talking about how Exelon has issued over $1 billion dollars in diversity contracts, there is much good work to still be done. While all the panelists brought unique value, a point raised by Mark Sebree really resonated with me diversity in urban areas is outpacing diversity in smaller and rural communities. As a native of Appalachia, I know this to be true and is an area that needs addressing by local leaders. I firmly believe that technology will not solve all of our problems, and we need as big of a tent as possible to address the coming disruptions associated with the 4IR (4th Industrial Revolution).

As always, if you would like more information on Smart Lighting, or Integrated Demand Side Management (EE/DR), please feel free to reach out, or visit our Knowledge Hubs here: Smart Lighting Solutions and Integrated EE/DR.

DNV GL has successfully designed and implemented Smart Lighting Systems projects on behalf of our utility clients for four years. Our team has significant project experience in both retrofitting and new construction of lighting projects. We work through the project life-cycle to identify, justify and evaluate energy saving measures and provide post-installation engineering review to verify savings.Our team is available to work directly with large institutions to assist them with Smart Lighting Systems. For more information, please contact Wesley Whited.

Wesley Whited is a Senior Consultant for Smart Lighting Systems at DNV GL. Mr. Whited has seven years’ experience in the commercial lighting market ranging from utility program design, project management and specification sales. Mr. Whited is a graduate of West Virginia University (WVU) and holds a MBA from Capital University in Columbus, OH.

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