Although I come from a close-knit family, I don’t think I truly understood the importance of community until about 10 years ago. My husband and I had moved to a city just outside of Madison with an 18 month in tow and our second son on the way. We lived in that city for over three years, not yet feeling connected. We discussed moving, not sure why we were unsettled. But, by serendipity (or grace or whatever you want to call it) we met one person who was incredibly instrumental in engaging us. This single happenstance meeting was followed by another fateful invitation. Long story short, eight years later, we are deeply entrenched in our community.
After attending the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s annual conference in Chicago in January, I couldn’t help but reflect on our energy community. I was grateful for the time I had to reconnect with individuals I hadn’t spoken with for over a decade, as well as meet some incredibly bright and passionate new individuals. And as I am on route to the Association for Energy Service Professional’s 25th National Conference I know everyone will be reflecting back at the history of our amazing energy community. There have been shifts in focus over the past years – from conservation, to efficiency, to deregulation, to customer research and satisfaction, back to energy efficiency – and now we are speculating on what is yet to come. But what is amazing is that we will be having these discussions with individuals who started and fostered our energy community. At this point of my career, I’m so grateful for you all and the collective industry. I truly believe we are a unique breed.
As I think forward to some of the current challenges in our industry, I know this: we will need to continue to band together as a community. In light of recent calls to action, including the Clean Air Act legislation, along with a rumbling of talk on the value of energy efficiency programs (and how to measure them), we need to work together to think through these issues in an effort to serve the greater good. And I think this network encompasses so may initiatives that at ILLUME we have seen succeeding, such as energy efficiency initiatives within targeted local communities and behavioral modifications within business communities.
I’m anxious to see what the future of our industry looks like, and how we will continue to shift and change to meet our future energy goals together.