video conference call


MES 2021 was four days of unparalleled virtual networking and discussion opportunities and engaging presentations covering policy, programs, energy codes, tech innovations and more. Scroll below or download the PDF version to view the exciting schedule of sessions.

2021 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference Agenda

*Please note all times are listed in CST


Catch the recording of the Preview Event plenary session we hosted on December 10th, "An Industry in Recovery: The Pandemic’s Effects on Energy Efficiency."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021               

Time                                                 Description                                       

7:00 - 8:00 a.m.                          Yoga Sponsored by Nexant

Join Monica Bright of Enhanced Body Yoga for a 60-minute yoga session to start your day. Bring your kids and your pets to join you on the mat for the perfect way to start your day.

12:00 - 12:10 p.m.                         Welcome and Opening Remarks

Welcome to 2021 MES! MEEA Board Chair, Shawn White of Xcel Energy, will kick things off.

  • Shawn White, Xcel Energy & MEEA Board Chair

12:10 - 12:40 p.m.                         Keynote

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer will start the conference session followed by remarks from Liesl Eichler Clark, Director of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State of Michigan
  • Liesl Eichler Clark, Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

12:40 - 1:10 p.m.                           Networking Break sponsored by Leidos

Check out Ameren Illinois' presentation in the Demos tab!

1:10 - 2:10 p.m.                             Plenary 

Energy Efficiency Implications in a Biden Administration

The incoming Biden Administration will mean shifting federal priorities in the energy sector. Regional and national leaders will discuss the legislative, economic and funding opportunities following the 2020 election.

  • Paula Glover, Alliance to Save Energy
  • David Terry, National Association of State Energy Offices
  • J.R. Tolbert, Advanced Energy Economy
  • Moderator: Stacey Paradis, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

2:10 - 2:40 p.m.                           Networking Break sponsored by EFI

Check out EFI's presentation in the Demos tab!

2:40 - 3:40 p.m.                          Breakout Session A1

No Wires, No Problem: Non-wires Solutions for Optimizing the Grid

Upgrading the grid doesn’t just mean adding more wires. Non-wires solutions (NWS) that include energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, storage and grid controls can replace some traditional transmission and distribution upgrades. Hear all about NWS: The cost/benefit analysis, how to implement and examples of grid optimization across the Midwest.

  • Natalie Mims Frick, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
  • Kate Strickland, Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)
  • Moderator: Kristina Kelly, DNV GL

2:40 - 3:40 p.m.                          Breakout Session A2

Addressing the Need for Energy Efficiency in Tribal Communities

Tribal communities are often burdened by high energy costs yet are hard to reach through traditional energy efficiency programs. Hear about energy insecurity and affordability in tribal communities and explore how the energy efficiency industry can better serve these customers.

  • Ben Benoit, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Division of Resource Management
  • Tehassi Tasi Hill, Oneida Nation
  • Bryan Van Stippen, National Indian Carbon Coalition
  • Moderator: Kelly Mulder, Illume

2:40 - 3:40 p.m.                          Breakout Session A3

Energy Efficiency Research and Development Lightning Round

To achieve higher energy savings and continue to meet local energy efficiency targets and climate goals, building materials, mechanical equipment, control technologies and program strategies will need to continue to evolve. Check out some of the latest technology advancements that will drive the future of energy efficiency. 

  • Gary Cushman, Nicor Gas
  • Nicholas Crowder, Ameren Illinois
  • Kelly Gunn, ComEd
  • David Podorson, Xcel Energy
  • Moderator: Bill LeBlanc, E Source

3:40pm - 4:00pm                          Networking Break sponsored by Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas

Check out Agentis' presentation in the Demos tab!

4:00pm - 5:00pm                          Networking Reception: That's a Dealbreaker!

That's a dealbreaker! Learn what ticks off your colleagues through a fun, interactive happy hour. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

7:00 - 8:00 a.m.                            Cardio Bootcamp Fitness Class sponsored by Nexant

Join Matthew Mueller of Camp Gladiator with a high energy workout to get your day started off right!

12:30 - 1:00 p.m.                            Opening Remarks

Start MES Day 2 with MEEA Executive Director Stacey Paradis to hear about MEEA's work and their vision for the future of energy efficiency.

  • Stacey Paradis, Executive Director, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

1:00 - 2:00 p.m.                              Plenary

How Can Energy Efficiency Support Grid Resiliency?

What is the value of energy efficiency from a regional energy planning perspective? This plenary will include perspectives from key actors in regional energy planning and system resiliency, including regional transmission organizations, state governments and utilities.

  • Tony Hunziker, MISO
  • Aditya Ranade, Minnesota Department of Commerce
  • Daniel Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Moderator: Nick Dreher, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

2:00 - 2:30 p.m.                             Networking Break sponsored by CenterPoint Energy

Check out Franklin Energy's presentation in the Demos tab!

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.                             Breakout Session B1

The 2020 Gauntlet: How Programs Can Best Account for an Everchanging World

How can programs continue to adapt to meet the needs of customers while in the throes of an economic recession? What can we learn from past recessions to prepare us for the future, ensuring that program design and outreach continue to progress to meet the evolving needs of customers? 

  • Jennifer Allen, Waypoint Energy
  • Carrie Harkness, Consumers Energy
  • Chris Neme, Energy Futures Group
  • Emily Startz, Power TakeOff
  • Moderator: Vinoth Kumar Sekar, Willdan

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.                             Breakout Session B2

Decarbonization and EE: How Corporations are Addressing Climate Demands

Decarbonization is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting climate goals. Corporations are innovating to respond to this shift, as well as the growing demand for climate action from the public. This session will highlight how corporate leaders in the Midwest are advancing decarbonization and integrating energy efficiency to reach their targets.

  • Jeremy Faust, Fifth Third Bank
  • Maeve Tropf, Steelcase
  • Robert Vandling, CommonSpirit Health
  • Meg Villarreal, Nestle
  • Moderator: Alli Gold Roberts, Ceres

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.                             Workshop B3

Empowering Women in Energy Efficiency

We know that diverse and inclusive organizations are stronger and perform better in the long-term. Hear experiences of women in energy efficiency in a discussion facilitated by female leaders in the industry. Come to learn and discuss intersectional approaches to organizational policies that create inclusive workplaces and help women succeed. 

  • Stacey Paradis, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • E'Lois Thomas, Ph.D., SEEL, LLC

3:30 - 4:00 p.m.                             Networking Break sponsored by Nicor Gas

Check out Willdan's presentation in the Demos tab!

4:00 - 5:00 p.m.                             Networking Reception: Scavenger Hunt 

Compete against your fellow attendees in a home scavenger hunt. Have your kids help you or get on your running shoes to find random items throughout your house. Participation is not required to attend. Feel free to kick back and watch your colleagues compete for bragging rights and a $100 gift card!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

7:00 - 8:00 a.m.                            Yoga Sponsored by Nexant

Join Monica Bright of Enhanced Body Yoga for a 60-minute yoga session to start your day. Bring your kids and your pets to join you on the mat for the perfect way to start your day.

12:00 - 12:10 p.m.                            Opening Remarks

Kick off Day 3 of MES with MEEA Vice Chair, E'Lois Thomas of SEEL for opening remarks before our keynote conversation!

  • E'Lois Thomas, Ph.D., SEEL, LLC & MEEA Board Vice Chair

12:10 - 1:00 p.m.                              Keynote Discussion

Understanding the Importance of Equity & Environmental Justice

Decisions made decades ago laid the groundwork for a system of environmental racism. During this conversation, we will discuss the impact these decisions had, why it is important to address these wrongs and what our industry can do now and in the future to create a more equitable environmental landscape for all.

  • Regina Strong, State of Michigan
  • E'Lois Thomas, Ph.D., SEEL, LLC

1:00 - 1:30 p.m.                               Networking Break sponsored by SEEL, LLC

Check out SEEL’s presentation in the Demos tab!

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                              Breakout Session C1

Evolving Evaluation: No Savings Left Behind

For EE to compete as a resource in the emerging smart-grid energy marketplace, we need to be able to verify savings faster. Traditional evaluation can take months after the program year to verify results, which is fine for cost-based regulation but too slow to respond to fast-changing energy markets. There are program designs, statistical comparisons and data-driven evaluation methods that can shift that paradigm and make EE faster, more predictable and more adaptable. This panel will discuss how implementers and evaluators in the Midwest are creating the programs and methods that will drive the next generation of EE in our region.

  • Christine Del Priore, Agentis
  • Jeff Erickson, Guidehouse
  • Scott Pigg, Slipstream
  • Moderator: Vince Gutierrez, ComEd

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                              Breakout Session C2

Not Everything’s Included: Assessing and Quantifying Non-Energy Impacts

The impacts of energy efficiency expand far beyond energy and associated cost savings. This panel explores how energy efficiency impacts health and grid resilience, and how these non-energy impacts can be accounted for in cost-benefit analyses.

  • Mitchell Horrie, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
  • Patricia Plympton, Guidehouse
  • Lisa Skumatz, Skumatz Energy Research Associates
  • Moderator: Amalia Hicks, Cadmus

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                              Breakout Session C3

The Systemic Problem of Energy Affordability                               

Energy affordability is a long-term, systemic problem, particularly for low to moderate income communities, and this issue is currently being further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the state of energy affordability across the Midwest and potential strategies being looked at to lesson this deep-rooted problem. 

  • Ariel Drehobl, ACEEE
  • Mark LeBel, The Regulatory Assistance Project
  • Ben Passer, Fresh Energy
  • Moderator: Sarah Moskowitz, Citizens Utility Board

2:30 - 3:00 p.m.                             Networking Break sponsored by Resource Innovations

Check out the presentation by Resource Innovations in the Demos tab!

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.                            Breakout Session D1

Lessons Learned from Swimming Upstream

To cost-effectively achieve larger energy savings and increase portfolio and programmatic impacts, Midwest utilities are prioritizing midstream program designs. Hear about lessons learned on midstream program design and implementation and the industry’s move to the middle. 

  • Jenna Bagnall-Reilly, TRC
  • Nick Leritz, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Sarah Tocco, DTE Energy
  • Moderator: Hannah Howard, Opinion Dynamics

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.                             Breakout Session D2

At the Local Level: Municipal Leadership in Economic and Environmental Initiatives

Despite inaction at the federal level, the Midwest saw many positive energy efficiency policy developments in 2020. This progress was largely due to leadership at the municipal level. Explore how local leaders have led the charge for energy efficiency in their areas.

  • Emily Andrews, U.S. Green Building Council- Missouri Gateway Chapter
  • Kathy Kuntz , Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change
  • Kim Havey, City of Minneapolis
  • Moderator: Brandon Renaud, Columbia Water & Light

3:00pm - 4:00 p.m.                             Workshop D3

Seeking EEquity and Inclusion in Our Industry

This open forum will provide a platform for EE professionals and organizations rooted in Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leadership and communities of color to share their stories of entry into—and their experience in—the industry. Reflecting on those stories, participants will be prompted to consider potential pathways to build the capacity of organizations and dismantle white supremacy, expanding workforce opportunities within BIPOC communities. Panelists will facilitate small group discussion to encourage honest conversation sharing challenges faced and supportive strategies to nurture open, non-hostile work environments.

  • Denise Abdul-Rahman, NAACP
  • Justin Idleburg, Idleburg Consultants
  • Holly Spears, SEEL, LLC
  • Carla Walker-Miller, Walker-Miller Energy Services

4:00pm - 4:20pm                          Networking Break sponsored by ICF

Check out a presentation by CLEAResult in the Demos tab!

4:20pm - 5:00pm                          Networking Reception: Would You Rather? 

Learn about fellow attendees in a whole new way. Chat in small groups being posed "Would You Rather scenarios".              

Friday, February 19, 2021

7:00 - 8:00 a.m.                            Cardio Bootcamp Fitness Class sponsored by Nexant

Join Matthew Mueller of Camp Gladiator with a high energy workout to get your day started off right!

12:00 - 12:10 p.m.                            Opening Remarks

MEEA Membership & External Relations Director, Jen Rhodes, starts the closing day of MES. 

  • Jen Rhodes, Membership & External Relations Director, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

12:10 - 1:10 p.m.                               Breakout Session E1

Electric Vehicles: A Driving Force to the Grid and Energy Efficiency Goals

As electric vehicle adoption rates increase, impacts on the utility system and the grid will intensify. Electric vehicles can be a grid asset, but they also introduce infrastructure and load considerations. This forward-looking panel will discuss the challenges and possibilities for utilities, regulators and the energy efficiency industry as EV adoption rates increase in the Midwest.

  • Dru Larson, Rochester Public Utilities
  • Carl Samuelson, Michaels Energy
  • Eric Wood, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Moderator: Kristol Simms, Ameren Illinois

12:10 - 1:10 p.m.                              Breakout Session E2

Industrial Adaptation: How Industrial Energy Users Can Utilize Energy Efficiency to Overcome Obstacles

Industrial companies are facing challenges stemming from an ever-evolving global market, changes in government policies and rapid industry shifts. How can industrial users prepare for and adapt to these rapid changes and policy drivers? This breakout will feature industrial perspectives from around the region and discuss implications of industrial policy and program trends.

  • Mark Dhennin, Cummins, Inc.
  • Alfred Hildreth, General Motors
  • Tim Peterkoski, Marathon Petroleum Corporation
  • Moderator: Melissa Hulting, U.S. EPA

12:10 - 1:10 p.m.                              Workshop E3

Help Needed: Equity-Focused Workforce Development

The energy efficiency industry produces more new jobs than any other part of the energy sector and is crucial to the revitalization of the clean energy workforce. But our growing industry can provide greater opportunities for equity-focused workforce development programs and policies. Join this interactive discussion to identify innovative workforce development opportunities that diversify the energy efficiency industry by attracting youth, veterans and members of BIPOC communities.

  • Charlie Espedido, Environmental Leadership Program
  • Delmar Gillus, Elevate Energy
  • Taylor Searcy, DNV GL
  • Moderator: Mary Shoemaker, ACEEE

1:10 - 1:30 p.m.                               Networking Break

Check out Nexant's presentation in the Demos tab!

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                              Breakout Session F1

Reduce Emissions by CommittEE: Keeping an Open Mind on Program Designs to Counteract Climate Change

Midwest states have begun proposing aggressive policy goals to avoid the climate change tipping point. State energy efficiency frameworks are a practical strategy for reducing emissions. Some have begun to prioritize longer life measures and much of the onus falls on utilities to strike the optimal balance between short- and long-term savings in their program portfolios. This panel will explore the value of near-term measures and multi-faceted EE measure planning in advancing climate goals. 

  • Julia Friedman, Oracle Utilities
  • David Pickles, ICF
  • Nathan Shannon, Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative
  • Moderator: Brian File, Evergy

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                               Breakout Session F2

The Growing Need for Energy Efficiency in Indoor Agriculture

The need for energy efficiency programs for indoor agriculture facilities is rapidly expanding in the Midwest. Not only do programs need to identify cost effective measures for the customer, but the buy-in from the agricultural industry and participation in these programs must increase to ensure success for the utility. This panel will cover strategies and best practices to engage this growing customer segment to participate in utility programs.

  • Nick Collins, ERS
  • Lauren Gaikowski, Franklin Energy
  • Michael La Count, LivWell Enlightened Health
  • Diane Strauss, CREAM: Conscious Renewal - Energy, Agriculture, Medicine
  • Moderator: Gretchen Schimelpfenig, Resource Innovation Institute

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.                               Workshop F3

No, It’s Not Another Atkins Diet: Decarb and EE

What does the road to implementation look like within a compliance framework once policies are passed? This interactive session will explore how energy efficiency and decarbonization work together. Join facilitated small group discussions to dig in and share solutions.

  • Alison Becker, NIPSCO
  • Dr. Brandy Brown, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
  • Anand Natarajan, City of Cleveland
  • Jerome Ryan, New Jersey Natural Gas

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.                                Closing Plenary

State Policy Trends in the Midwest

This plenary will highlight emerging clean energy policies in Midwest states and discuss their implications for the future of energy efficiency. Focusing on state policy opportunities and challenges in Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin, you’ll hear a range of perspectives from the government and advocacy sectors.

  •  Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, State of Wisconsin
  • Mike Bull, Center for Energy and Environment
  • Randi Leppla, Ohio Environmental Council
  • Bria Scudder, State of Illinois
  • Moderator: Reine Rambert, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance