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2023 Annual Conference Topics of Interest

The following topics are of interest to AESP and members:

Business Issues and Models Topics

  • Role of efficiency and demand flexibility in decarbonization goals: Utility perspectives in decarbonization strategy related to the use of customer-sited energy efficiency and flexible loads  
  • Local and regional leadership: Examples of how communities are driving demand for a cleaner, more intelligent and integrated energy eco-system through community sustainability, resilience and decarbonization goals  
  • New pay for performance models: Highlighting any new models including performance-based ratemaking 
  • Clean energy and infrastructure policy impacts: Showcasing how clean energy markets in the U.S. and Canada have been and will be impacted by National and Regional Policies related to decarbonization, infrastructure and economic recovery. 
  • Planning for resilience: New utility and energy industry resilience initiatives are becoming more prevalent across the U.S. and Canada, but strategies for achieving resilience goals come in many shapes and size.  This topic will identify key trends in the “resilience as a service” market and how these services can present opportunities to drive greater investment in energy efficiency, grid-interactive buildings and distributed energy resources. 
  • Corporate and investor initiatives driving the clean energy transition: Corporate carbon reduction commitments and a greater investment focus on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) are now heavily driving investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and other decarbonization technologies.  This topic will delve into how these investments and commitments are altering the landscape of energy products and services as we know it. 
  • Beneficial electrification: How can beneficial electrification business models impact the electric and gas industries as well as end-users? What is the role of solar and energy storage in electrification strategy? What is the role of natural gas in electrification strategy? 
  • Demand flexibility and DER aggregation market models: Distributed Energy Resources such as energy storage, electric vehicles and responsive loads have the potential to offer a wide range of system benefits if they can be successfully integrated into the bulk power system. However, success will be highly dependent on crafting market mechanisms that address both technical and business risks as well as encourage closer coordination between distribution and transmission system operators. This topic evaluates both the opportunities and the risks associated with this emerging business opportunity and discusses the remaining policy gaps associated with FERC Order 2222. 

Energy Equity and Environmental Justice

  • Understanding energy equity and environmental justice: Tracing the history and root of the energy equity and environmental justice movement. 
  • Decarbonization initiatives for underserved communities: Designing innovative customer offerings to meet decarbonization goals for special populations including low to moderate-income and underserved communities.
  • Equity in pricing and DR: Showcasing equity-enhancing programs and pilots in the DR and rates space that serve low-to-moderate income customers: innovative programs that help this growing, hard-to-reach segment optimize their energy use using no or low-cost methods.
  • Assessing diversity, equity, and inclusion approaches: Strategies for measuring program effectiveness for achieving diversity, equity and inclusion goals and ensuring effective community engagement
  • Setting energy equity and environmental justice goals: This topic will investigate policies and initiatives that tackle imbalances in access to clean, efficient energy resources as well as address the historical negative environmental impacts to underserved communities.
  • Diversifying the clean energy workforce: The clean energy workforce will need to be expanded dramatically to achieve clean energy and climate goals both state-wide and nationally. How can we ensure this expansion is diverse and that there are equitable opportunities available? What are examples of effective recruitment, training, credentialing, placement, and retention?
  • Making meaningful strides with supplier diversity: Prioritizing supplier diversity can increase profit, encourage healthy competition, strengthen customer relationships, and inspire innovation. Share your strategies for building a business case, creating supportive internal policies, identifying diverse suppliers, investing in your supplier diversity program, and establishing goals and best practices.
  • Cultivating a cycle of trust with underserved communities: One barrier to improving adoption of energy efficiency and clean energy program offerings in underserved communities is a lack of trust between the community and the electric or gas provider. This topic will highlight lessons learned and best practices in successfully engaging diverse populations with clean energy offerings. 
  • Energy equity in emerging technologies: How to get an equitable representation of people adopting emerging energy technologies. 

Gas Energy Efficiency Topics

  • Innovations in gas efficient technologies: Any new technology focused on saving natural gas or existing technology that in novel program applications
  • Gas’s role in decarbonization and electrification: Role of natural gas energy efficiency programs and natural gas utility companies in an age of decarbonization and electrification efforts
  • Natural gas program post-mortem: Lessons learned from natural gas energy efficiency programs that failed or did not meet expectations
  • Gas demand response: Highlighting DR opportunities or programs focusing on natural gas applications.
  • Coordination between gas and electric programs: Highlighting any programs that effectively coordinate efforts between natural gas and electric utilities
  • Hydrogen’s role in gas industry transformation: Hydrogen as a green gas alternative and transportation fuel

Marketing and Customer Engagement Topics

  • All about content: content strategy, content management, ideation and generation, optimization, content marketing, balancing relevancy to customers and Google ranking 
  • Prioritizing mobile: text messaging/SMS in marketing or utility communications, website optimization for mobile, geofencing 
  • Marketing automation: integration with CRM platforms, drip campaigns, successful automated email campaigns 
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): use of search terms and/or SEO tools to increase website rankings 
  • Energy in the global consciousness: thought leadership, capitalizing on public awareness of climate change, opportunities for collaboration 
  • Demand response marketing and communication: best practices in articulating the benefits to customers, communication channels, targeting 

Pricing and Demand Response Topics

  • Passive and active approaches to managing EV charging: How utilities are using price signals and dispatchable DR to manage electric vehicle load, as well as customer engagement strategies to incentivize enrollment.
  • Multi-DER integration: Experiences harnessing multiple DERs at a given site and measurement of those efforts
  • New and emerging approaches to DR in the commercial and industrial sectors: The latest and greatest ways to shift, shed, or shimmy load at larger commercial and industrial sites
  • Small and medium business demand response and pricing strategies: Small/medium businesses have been historically difficult to engage with on DR and time varying rates. Come share your novel approaches to achieving greater participation and load impacts from these hard-to-reach businesses.
  • Beyond time of use: Seeking sessions on the development and deployment of the next generation of time-varying rates (e.g., real time pricing, critical peak pricing, demand pricing).
  • Layering shape and shift: As TOU becomes more widespread, how do we limit customer confusion when simultaneously deploying rate-based behavioral DR like peak time rebates? And how do we accurately measure and attribute these impacts?
  • Innovations in billing, pricing, and enabling technology: Initiatives that increase grid flexibility and customer satisfaction through different billing, rates, and pricing options in addition to the technology that helps streamline it. 

Program Design & Implementation Topics

  • Electrification of C&I buildings: C&I buildings / customers could have the greatest potential impact on electrification and decarbonization planning. What efforts are underway to develop stronger and more comprehensive auditing and bundling measures for whole building savings? Possibilities include building automation and controls, managing larger buildings as grid assets, deeper retrofits, and other evolutions from traditional C&I programs.
  • Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: Leveraging funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into program designs while targeting a new audience – states. 
  • Pay for performance program design: Developed to allow for innovation, reduced costs, and increased customer value, Pay for Performance (P4P) delivery contracts require a greater emphasis on cost-effective program design and delivery. Are they really working? 
  • Work from home’s effects on C&I programs: How has the work from home movement impacted traditional savings estimates and persistence within C&I programs?
  • EVs and traditional energy assessments: How are EVs and electrification opportunities being incorporated into traditional energy assessments? New partners? New skills?
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA): How does it connect to economic development, underserved communities, and the environment? Is non-cannabis just as important as cannabis?
  • Heat pumps in all climates: Heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for all climates. How can all utilities get into heat pumps? 
  • Innovations in program delivery models: In the next years energy programs will begin to change focus from traditional energy efficiency and move towards models that are motivated by decarbonization objectives, electrification, energy equity, and other social benefit plans. This topic considers a wide range of possibilities anticipating the changing landscape. 

Research and Evaluation Topics

  • Decarbonization strategy and technology research: Research into programs, pilots and technologies that support cost-effective decarbonization strategies 
  • Evaluating demand flexible load applications and programs: Assessing demand flexibility programs, pilots, and/or rates on their ability to provide utility and system benefits 
  • Transportation electrification research: Load impact assessments, new planning strategies, customer research, and other market research designed to help mitigate load growth impacts of EVs and integrated EVs as a potential grid resource 
  • Evolving EM&V methodologies: Innovations in estimation of net-to-gross, non-energy benefits, cost-effectiveness, GHG/decarbonization progress, or other similar areas

Tools and Technology-related Topics

  • Trends in automated demand response: Hardware, software, or cloud solutions used to improve demand response program effectiveness as a grid asset. 
  • Pairing energy storage with efficiency and demand response: Hardware, software, or cloud solutions used to integrate energy storage, energy efficiency, and demand response  
  • Innovations in sensors and controls for building energy management: Hardware, software, or cloud solutions used to drive building energy management to a new level and enable the development of grid-interactive efficient building designs  
  • Commercial building performance: New technologies that have emerged in recent years to allow significant cost effective progress in reducing energy loads of commercial buildings.
  • Advances in data analytics: New and exciting data analytics applications or processes including how data is being used, data mining to understand load patterns, aggregation and disaggregation, and forecasting models.  
  • Controlled environment ag technologies: From cannabis to food production, controlled environment agriculture technology and strategies for energy efficiency, demand response, and electrification  
  • New heat pump technologies / HVAC and strategies: New advances in thermal building management technologies such as C02 water heaters to cold climate heat pumps 
  • DIY-ready energy efficiency projects beyond lighting: What technologies can customers benefit from without the added cost of a contractor to install the products? 
  • Emerging electrification technologies for residential, commercial, and industrial facilities: Beneficial and clean energy electrification has been a common theme in the past years. This topic addresses how electrification technologies will evolve and details of approaches for all facility sectors


    Emerging Hot Topics

    We also welcome you to submit an “emerging, hot topic” abstract showcasing a project, research, methodology, policy, or new data application. The emerging, hot topic submissions should focus on ground-breaking and unique content that would not otherwise have been presented at the conference.