EE Global’s Exciting Opening Plenary: Electrifying the Economy: Driving Energy Productivity in the Digital Age
Kelly Speakes-Backman commenced the EE Global Opening Plenary this afternoon with an overview of the Alliance to Save Energy’s exciting EE Global announcements, including the newly-released Global Alliance Roadmap Playbook and the Systems Efficiency Initiative Year One Sum of its Parts Report. Following the session’s introduction, Speakes-Backman introduced her fellow panelists and dove into the Opening Plenary panel discussion, Electrifying the Economy: Driving Energy Productivity in the Digital Age. What followed was a robust discussion of the ways in which the energy system of the future is being shaped by increased grid connectivity, information technologies and the diversified use of electricity across the economy. Speakes-Backman was joined onstage by Roger Flanagan, managing director at Lockheed Martin Energy, Laurie Giammona, senior vice president and chief customer officer at PG&E Company, Dave Szczupak, EVP of global product organization at Whirlpool Corporation and Thomas Kuhn, president, Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
Plenary Session Discussion
Roger Flanagan, managing director at Lockheed Martin Energy
Roger Flanagan described the exciting new technological advancements that are taking place related to energy productivity, distributed generation, storage, information technology and grid connectivity. He touched on integration from a systems perspective and the benefits from the grid perspective, explaining that these changes are currently making major productivity enhancements and changes in the near term.
Laurie Giammona, senior vice president and chief customer officer at PG&E Company
Laurie Giammona dove into the challenges that utilities are currently facing as the grid evolves. She provided a view into the regulatory impact of grid changes in California, as well as the strategies that PG&E is using as they work with the state to address the unique challenges. She also explored the leading-edge initiatives that PG&E is currently involved in, including the company’s Retail Plug Load Portfolio (RPP) Program.
She explained that RPP is a market transformation (MT) program, in which utilities provide retailers with incentives on a portfolio of consumer-facing energy efficiency (EE) measures with the objective of permanently altering the behavior of key market actors throughout the supply chain.
Dave Szczupak, EVP of global product organization at Whirlpool Corporation
Dave Szczupak discussed the role of manufacturing and operations in driving sustainability and increasing efficiency. Exploring the ways in which manufacturers can use innovation and environmental commitment to provide consumers with sustainable solutions, he discussed the ENERGY STAR® Partner of The Year Award that Whirlpool received last month from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award recognized Whirlpool for the strides it has made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturing energy-efficient home appliances.
Thomas Kuhn, president, Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
Mr. Kuhn discussed the challenge of meeting changing customer needs, providing insight into customer perspectives and discussing the increasing need for flexibility from utilities in providing innovative products and services. He emphasized the value of the grid, illuminating the sometimes less-apparent services and products that the grid provides to customers. He continued by providing telling examples from EEI customers that illustrate the changing energy landscape and how utilities are adapting to changing customer needs.
Tyler Suiters, VP of communications, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
Tyler Suiters focused his remarks on opportunities for innovation in energy efficiency. He provided an efficiency perspective on the innovation being explored by companies such as Uber and Snapchat, as well as smartphone manufacturers, all of which are considered industry disruptors.
Suiters gave the smartphone as an example, which continues to become lighter and more efficient. In fact, CTA’s research measured the costs of charging a smartphone for one year, finding it to equal only around 60 cents. Suiters also described the innovation occurring in other electronic devices in American homes, which he explained as currently surging. This widening innovation, he noted, is happening simultaneously to a reduction in electricity consumption by nine percent, pointing to greater efficiency in devices. In an equation where technology is the common denominator for energy efficiency, Suiters explained, collaboration, best practices, standards and regulation are also key players.
More to Come
The Opening Plenary Session of EE Global was only the halfway point of dynamic energy efficiency conversations, setting the stage for yet another round of important dialogues tomorrow. We are looking forward to seeing how these conversations will continue to develop in the coming months and years, playing an instrumental role in shaping energy efficiency policies and practices around the globe.