Midstream in the Midwest – Sharing the Benefits of ESRPP

Over the last few years, Midwest utilities have expressed interest in learning more about the Northwest’s Market Transformation approach, which identifies and removes market barriers to energy efficiency to drive permanent change throughout the supply chain. In February, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) hosted its annual Midwest Energy Solutions conference, which seeks to raise awareness and reinforce the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest, celebrate accomplishments in energy efficiency and lay out the efficiency program and policy landscape for the coming year.

Nick Leritz headshot
Nick Lertiz, Sr. Market Transformation Manager, NEEA

To incorporate the Northwest’s perspective and proven success with Market Transformation, MEEA tapped Nick Leritz, Sr. Market Transformation Manager for Consumer Products at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), to participate in a panel called “Lessons Learned from Swimming Upstream,” focused on best practices and evaluation considerations for midstream programs. Each panelist offered innovative program design and implementation strategies, opportunities to intervene higher in the supply chain and lessons learned along the way.

Leritz provided an overview of the ENERGY STAR® Retail Products Platform (ESRPP) – which provides midstream retailer incentives to influence retail buying and stocking practices, in turn gaining access to full category sales data from participating retailers for a portfolio of consumer products. NEEA runs ESRPP as a midstream Market Transformation program, however during the panel, Leritz discussed program elements that can support its implementation as a resource acquisition program. One example is increased portfolio flexibility, which allows each sponsor to customize their program’s portfolio and alternative incentive models that improve utility attribution.

Additional panelists included Jenna Bagnall-Reilly of TRC and Sarah Tocco of DTE Energy. Bagnall-Reilly of TRC presented on TRC’s work with Consumers Energy in Michigan to research benchmarking and best practices for a commercial midstream program for gas equipment with the goal of figuring out ways to improve its program design and increase distributor sales. Tocco of DTE Energy presented on DTE’s highly successful midstream platform for lighting, food service and HVAC. Tocco shared the importance of knowing your local market, finding the gaps downstream, planning controlled growth, organizing roundtable events and maintaining flexibility.

Throughout the Midwest, utilities are prioritizing midstream program design to cost-effectively achieve more energy savings and increase programmatic impact. In fact, in 2020, Illinois established a statewide framework for Market Transformation savings and evaluation. NEEA has played a critical role in helping both ComEd and Ameren Illinois design and implement ESRPP pilot programs in their territories. Through these combined, national efforts, like those of the ESRPP program, consumers in the Northwest and beyond gain access to more energy-efficient, sustainable products. And, alignment across regions helps to create economies of scale, which brings additional value back to the Northwest.