The Magazine

ILLUME’s Magazine is an annual publication for the energy industry that aims to inspire ideas, transform leadership, and challenge the status quo. Our magazine articles leverage what we’ve learned from the past and applies those lessons to the challenges of the future. We reflect and take on topics that keep our team energized about our work and remind us there is still work to be done. We invite you into our conversations with the changemakers and share our perspective on enabling ingenuity that establishes a path forward that is equitable, sustainable, and profitable. We hope after you read the ILLUME Magazine, you come away with a seed of inspiration to face our industry’s headwinds with renewed resolve. We seek to reawaken your sense of optimism through our bold questions and innovative ideas that will effectively and dynamically move the energy industry forward. We share each volume of ILLUME Magazine with its downloadable articles below.

A Systems Approach: Defining Energy Burden and Determining How to Treat It August 2022

As regulators demand more benefits from clean energy investments go to disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities, program administrators need to increasingly rely on different analyses and metrics to determine how to alleviate energy burden.

A Timeline of Three Crises: How COVID-19 Raised the Stakes for Racial and Climate Justice September 2021

The year 2020 was marked by a global pandemic, racial injustice, and climate change. This is the journey of how ILLUME advised our industry through a year of uncertainty.

Alexa! Show me my Smart Home. March 2021

As our homes get smarter, utilities can offer ways to meet customer expectations and provide seamless participation in DR programs. Here are some technologies offering new load management opportunities.

All-Electric: Beneficial Electrification Gets a Second Shot at Ubiquity January 2022

Electrify everything?! We get to the heart of some of the key themes and tensions around beneficial electrification in our interview with Kathy Kuntz.

All Hands Design: Participation and Democracy as Innovation September 2021

Participatory design can help utilities gather input from a wide range of stakeholders before offerings hit the market. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Are you Blockbuster in the Age of Netflix? September 2019

In this article, we take a closer look at how utilities can best position themselves to define their value to stay on course with customers.

Balancing Your Equity Framework August 2022

A groundswell of energy equity and justice legislation contain guidelines for more equitable processes and outcomes. What are states considering in their equity frameworks? Read on to find out.

Basics for Innovation: How Evaluation Fundamentals Can Spur Innovation August 2022

The energy industry is rapidly deploying new technologies and reinvigorating rate and energy solutions to combat climate change. In this article, we consider a new evaluation paradigm that breaks through existing EM&V roadblocks to support innovation that will achieve climate change, social, and policy goals.

CenterPoint Doubles Down on Data to Deliver Smarter Programs March 2021

CenterPoint has long been interested in an energy efficiency dashboard. How does a utility, operating across multiple verticals, create an intelligence platform for decision making?

Change is Hard: Understanding How We Approach Decisions Can Help June 2021

Rallying around aggressive carbon reduction goals means big changes. But how can our industry change when we cling to the familiar?

Climate Change is Here. Is Your City Ready? March 2021

Are you going to be underwater or sweating it out? We break down data from the ND-GAIN Urban Adaptation Assessment to map how five U.S. cities are preparing for climate change.

Corporate Social Responsibility 2.0: How Conscious Capitalism can Deliver Value September 2021

In this article we take a closer look at ways utilities and the private sector are being called upon to generate smart, pro-social, and more forward-thinking business and policy strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

COVID-19 is Making Us Sick, Energy Efficiency is Part of the Cure September 2021

The pandemic elevated public health back into the national conversation. How will utilities continue to value, reframe, and extol the many measurable public health and safety benefits of our industry after COVID-19 recedes?

Customer-Centered Culture August 2022

Join ILLUME’s Co-Founder, Anne Dougherty, in a conversation with Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) customer experience team to learn how they are using the Forrester Research definition of customer experience to put some discipline around the art of customer satisfaction.

Delivering a Smart Home Offering from the Customer Up September 2021

Learn how DTE partnered with ILLUME to develop a customer-centric model to discover smart home offerings, test customer responses, and show savings potential.

Disaster as Catalyst September 2021

The year 2020 was marked by disasters. In this article, we look back at history as we reflect on past environmental disasters and the major changes in policy that followed.

Electric Cars: An Offbeat History March 2021

Electric vehicles made their debut during the era of the horse and buggy! In honor of more than a century of EVs, we dug into automobile archives in search of forgotten history.

From Community Engagement to Ownership May 2021

Climate change and social and environmental injustice is inspiring all of us to become better energy citizens. But is our industry ready to take on the difficult work of centering communities?

From Grid to Human Resilience: Lessons from Public Health March 2021

The 2018 California wildfires underscored disproportionate environmental and health burdens in disadvantaged communities. We explore the energy-health nexus by asking, ‘what actions are required to ready our most vulnerable communities for climate change?’

From the Lab into Our Lives: Technologies that Promise to Transform How We Generate and Save Energy August 2022

Technology will be central to the Great Decarbonization. But technologies as we know them now? Perhaps and perhaps not. In this magazine article we explore the not-so-common but promising technologies that may help us reach our climate change mitigation goals.

From Widgets to Ecosystems March 2021

We have seen a shift in innovation away from smart device hardware and toward a more connected infrastructure. With so many companies pivoting into this space, what will an energy ecosystem enable?

Further / Faster – Google Sets Its Sights on 24/7 Clean Energy to Power Its Global Supply August 2022

Google’s Director of Energy, Michael Terrell, sat down with ILLUME Founder, Anne Dougherty, to talk about Google’s vision to convert coal plants to data centers and how the company breathed new life into a community sitting atop aging utility infrastructure.

Generation Z is Coming! September 2021

Frugal, socially-conscious, and born online, Generation Z deviates from Millennials and other generations in key ways. Here are six things you should know about Gen Z.

Georgia Power is Leading by Their Customers’ Example July 2021

When it comes to energy efficiency, context is everything. Learn how ILLUME used in-home and in-business ethnographic research to help Georgia Power explore how social and local culture impacts residents’ perceptions of light, home, and comfort.

Georgians Transforming the Lives of Neighbors: An Interview with Eric Arnold August 2022

In this article, ILLUME Founder, Sara Conzemius, and Eric Arnold, Georgia Power’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program Implementation Manager, sat down to discuss their novel Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program (HEEAP). Learn how one utility is amplifying the goodwill of community members to help neighbors in need.

Get Smart! Applying Smart Thermostat Lessons to DERs March 2021

What go-to-market models are needed to drive adoption of DERs and maximize their grid benefits? Here’s how smart thermostats are providing important learnings for scaling DER adoption and increasing program participation.

Ground Truthing Strategy: The ILLUME Way August 2022

At ILLUME, we do not lean on expertise alone; we ground everything we do in knowledge generated within and outside ILLUME and our clients’ organizations – we share our process for this ground truthing strategy here.

Heat Pumps Take Center Stage August 2022

In this article, we talk about how heat pumps are writing their own electrification playbooks that have the power to drive the industry toward a more equitable and scalable decarbonization strategy.

How to Deal with DERs September 2021

Distributed energy resources (DERs) are putting customers back in the driver’s seat. Here are five ways we can meet customer needs while balancing the needs of the grid.

Hunker Down a Tweet Storm is Coming June 2021

Social media is giving voice to a new generation of customers who are using its tools to show where they do and do not align with utility values and behaviors.

Illuminating Opportunity In Uncertainty August 2022

The energy industry needs better models for identifying, vetting, and moving new opportunities to market to achieve the innovation necessary for transformation. In this piece, we step you through ILLUME’s five-step process to go from strategic priority identification to scalable market-viable offerings with a measurable impact.

Volume II – Ingenuity and Resilience January 2020

We are proud to share the second volume of ILLUME’s annual publication, Ingenuity and Resilience, as we take on the most pressing topic of our time: climate change.

Innovation Breakdown July 2021

Small and medium businesses present an untapped opportunity for energy savings. Read how ILLUME employed a Statewide Commercial Behavioral Segmentation and Potential Study to uncover millions of therms of energy savings in Minnesota.

Is Biased Language Undercutting Your Diversity and Equity Efforts? September 2021

Rooting out bias from our industry’s lexicon requires intention. Here we explore a framework to shift commonly-used phrases from harmful framing to more dignifying language.

Is This Our Climate’s Moonshot Moment? Moving Markets with Top-Down Legislative Action August 2022

With the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Build Back Better Act, the federal government and states are providing much needed resources to help communities undergoing a just transition. This has us at ILLUME thinking, has our industry entered its “moonshot moment,” using legislative action like a planet’s gravitational orbit to accelerate a second clean energy boom?

Isolated but Innovative: Learning from Islands March 2021

Learn how Puerto Rico and other islands have deployed technologies like microgrids and solar and storage to meet their renewable energy goals while creating resiliency in the face of climate catastrophes.

Keeping the Lights On: Leveraging Energy Efficiency for Reliability August 2022

As the need for demand management and reliability increases, how can we extend energy efficiency (EE) portfolios to increase demand impacts and improve reliability? In this article, learn more about how ILLUME helps our customers navigate the challenge of current and emerging grid constraints, the regulatory environment, and the energy efficiency portfolio mix intersection with a staged approach.

Let’s Take Off Our Rose-Colored Glasses March 2021

We kick-off our 2020 magazine, Ingenuity and Resilience, by framing two truths that we must contend with to design the policies, programs, and interventions necessary to ready our communities for climate change.

Looking Ahead in Uncertain Times: How Evaluation Can Help Lead the Way August 2022

The tumult of 2020 onwards challenges us to think differently about how we do our work. In this article, ILLUME Founder, Anne Dougherty, sits down with ILLUME evaluation experts Lisa LeBeau Obear and Pace Goodman to reflect on major changes in the energy industry and in our world and how analytics and evaluation tools can help us navigate these uncertain and challenging times, with customers at the forefront.

More Accessible Solar: Community Solar and Pricing Programs Democratize Solar Benefits August 2022

Community solar and green pricing programs show continued growth since 2010. Despite their growth, current participants don’t reflect the population and this presents an opportunity for program administrators to expand their reach and include an equitable cross-section of their customer population.

Volume I – Opportunity in Disruption August 2019

In ILLUME’s debut issue, we take on everything from defining the customer journey, to how utilities are finding new revenue streams, to our featured story on our work with Georgia Power.

Reach Anxiety March 2021

Everyone is talking about EVs, but ownership is limited to a few. In this article, we talk about EV affordability as cities and states pursue aggressive climate mandates.

Redrawing our Mental Maps of Income-Eligible Customers March 2021

Addressing inequality requires that we test our own assumptions. Our data-viz team uncovers patterns and clusters of information using GIS tools to inform program participation and reduce adoption barriers.

Reframing DEI from an Individual Resource to an Organizational Value: An Interview with Sherard Robbins September 2021

ILLUME sits down with Visceral Change’s Sherard Robbins to talk candidly about diversity, equity, and inclusion and reflect on the hard truths of 2020.

Reorienting Toward Equity September 2021

Our nation, and our organizations, are contending with failed equity policies. To remedy historic and structural wrongs, we need a roadmap.

Research Your (Un)Knowns to Innovate September 2021

Innovating shouldn’t feel like trying to pry open a black box. We explore go-to research approaches to help utilities uncover new markets and expand program offerings.

Right Answers to the Wrong Questions? March 2021

Sometimes approaching research with the standards of evaluation can be costly and deliver fewer valuable insights when other research methods might be better suited for nascent offerings.

Setting the Table for Change: Why Effective Translation is Like Throwing a Memorable Dinner Party September 2021

Asking would-be participants to navigate offerings in a language that is not their own is like getting invited to a dinner party where you don’t feel welcome. So how do we ensure our translations are more inviting?

Show Me, Don’t Tell Me: First-Hand Experience is the Gatekeeper to Widespread EV and EVSE Adoption August 2021

The Biden administration is bringing coherence to the EV landscape. But what about customers and site hosts? Are there persistent barriers we need to overcome?

So, You Want to be the Amazon of Energy? July 2021

Utility driven marketplaces show promise for expanding revenue streams. But how can utilities meet the high—and growing—customer expectations for fulfillment, communications, and service that are the hallmark of the Amazon model?

Stay Calm and Rate Reform On September 2021

Utilities are turning to rate reform to manage peak loads and engage customers. Learn how ILLUME supported utility clients to across rate communications strategy, design, and evaluation efforts.

Supporting New York’s Disadvantaged Communities’ Goals August 2022

ILLUME is using our ground truthing strategy to identify disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, uncover what people in those communities care about, and make sure the data allows you to measure what people care about in. Read on to learn how ILLUME is helping the State of New York discern how billions of dollars of annual investments will be allocated to disadvantaged communities and how those benefits will be measured.

Teaching the Old Evaluation Dog New Tricks September 2021

Program evaluation has largely been the tail wagging the dog. But for emerging and pilot initiatives, evaluation can also play a strong research and information support role. Here’s how.

The Need For Speed: Evaluation as an Emerging Opportunities Accelerator August 2022

In a moment when innovation is imperative, leveraging evaluation to innovate will require out-of-the-box thinking, proactive planning, and early engagement. Here ILLUME provides some key considerations to help encourage the integration of evaluation for folks working in innovation, research and development, and emerging technologies.

The State of Storage: Q&A with EnerDel March 2021

As U.S. automobile manufacturers prepare for an all-electric future, we can’t help but ask the question: are domestic battery companies positioned to meet our needs?

The Theory of Everything: Is Equity’s ‘Broader’ and ‘Deeper’ Approach the Key to Decarbonizing at Scale? August 2022

Read ILLUME’s interview with Mike Li, DOE, and his suggestions for policymakers, regulators, utilities, and consultants looking for ways to decarbonize at scale and how to make the transition to a clean energy economy without leaving people and communities behind.

There are Jobs to be Done: How Journey Mapping Can Move Us Past Experiences to Opportunity August 2022

Our work at ILLUME demonstrates that customer journey mapping might be an untapped tool that offers a more complete picture of your customers needs and important opportunities to serve them better.

Unpacking the Utility’s Value in a Time of Climate Shocks August 2022

As climate change leads to more frequent and destructive events, ILLUME provides critical guidance to utilities on how to prepare for, manage, and address critical services surrounding extreme weather events.

Using Art to Personalize Data January 2022

The voice of the customer is front and center in this illustrated piece as we accompany customers and retailers (virtually) on a shopping trip to understand one simple task: How to purchase a light bulb.

Val Jensen Sees the Future, It’s Connected Communities March 2021

ILLUME Co-Founder Anne Dougherty sits down with Val Jensen to talk about his role as Vice President of Strategy & Policy at Exelon Utilities, the utility of the future, equity, and connected communities.

Volume III – Energy Citizenship September 2021

What does it mean to enjoy the rights of our community as energy consumers? In our third magazine, ILLUME explores energy citizenship across four critical themes: equity, climate, technology, and citizen/corporate action.

Volume IV – The Great Decarbonization August 2022

Our fourth volume of the ILLUME Magazine, “The Great Decarbonization,” is an inspirational collection of articles, interviews, and ideas we believe have the power to shift our industry to a capacity-building mindset. Throughout this volume of our Magazine, we invite you to embrace the intersectionality of the communities the energy industry serves, be inspired by the ingenuity shared herein, and be transformed from resilience to a new capacity-building mindset.

What’s the Deal with BE? March 2021

The West Coast gets a lot of attention when it comes to beneficial electrification, but other parts of the country are making important strides to move away from carbon-generated electricity.

When it Rains it Pours: Are State Rainy Day Funds Prepared for Pandemics and Climate Change? September 2021

Rather than treating the pandemic as an outlier, states should look to the pandemic as a dry run for devastating, and costly, future climate disasters.

Who are You With? What’s the Catch? Barriers to Participation September 2021

ILLUME conducted one of the largest nonparticipant studies in Massachusetts. Here’s what we learned about those who we are missing in our programs and services.

Workforce Development After the Pandemic: Building an Equitable Clean Energy Workforce August 2022

As our clean energy industry recovers from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to re-envision our workforce to better address structural and historic inequities in access, wealth, and opportunity. In this piece, ILLUME offers our recommendations to ensure the green recovery is accessible to a broader swath of the U.S. population.

Your Customers are Woke, are You? September 2021

As utility customers grow increasingly diverse, our industry has an opportunity to evolve how we outreach and communicate with our customers. Here are a few strategies to get the conversation started.