Energy Efficiency
Community Engagement

Firehouse chili and energy efficiency in Ohio

This week I traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to speak at American Municipal Power's Annual Conference. AMP is a large joint action agency, serving public power distribution utilities (and a number of joint action agencies) in 7 states. AMP is very forward thinking — they're developing a diversified portfolio of power supply resources (natural gas, coal, new run-of-the-river hydro, wind and distribution level solar), and running an innovative energy efficiency program.

AMP always puts on a great meeting — breakfast started with a game of electric utility industry Jeopardy, followed by a comprehensive State-of-AMP address by Marc Gerken, AMP's CEO. We also heard from Craig Butler, director of Ohio's EPA, on Ohio's view of the U.S. EPA's proposed 111(d) rule on carbon dioxide emissions.

At lunch, I took a road trip to a nearby AMP member utility, the city of Westerville, Ohio. Along with Westerville's Electric Utility Manager Andy Boatright, Council Member Kathy Cocuzzi, and Electric Finance Manager Chris Monacelli, I went to a charity chili cook-off at the firehouse to benefit Westerville Caring and Sharing, a local charity that provides school supplies and other items to kids in need. I sampled some exotic chilis, including Canuck Chili (excellent!) and Pumpkin Chili (a bit exotic for my taste_.), and broke bread with Westerville City Manager Dave Collinsworth. It was great to get out of the hotel (I have been seeing many of those in the past few months) and actually visit a member.

Westerville is a lovely historic community (founded in 1858), and the pride in community shows everywhere, from the 9/11 First Responders Memorial (with girders from the World Trade Center) to the underground utilities downtown and the multi-million dollar upgrade being made to the water treatment plant. (OK, I confess I am an infrastructure nerd!)

Back at the meeting, I attended a session about AMP's groundbreaking energy efficiency program, Efficiency Smart. In partnership with the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, AMP is working with its retail utility members to bring state-of-the-art energy efficiency measures to all classes of retail customers. City officials from Dover, Jackson Center, and Bowling Green, Ohio, talked about how Efficiency Smart has helped industrial and commercial customers save energy and even accommodate facility expansions — a great economic shot in the arm for these communities.

Given the EPA CO2 regulations we know are coming, it makes great sense to invest in energy efficiency, and to use it as an important tool to serve retail customers. AMP deserves great credit for developing the Efficiency Smart program and promoting it to its distribution members."