It’s not only about light bulbs: Are energy efficiency utilities the business model of the future?

The New Energy Economy: Where and how do DCSEU and other energy efficiency utilities fit in, within this bigger, evolving picture?

Ted Trabue had me at “low-hanging fruit.”

I met Trabue, Managing Director of Washington, D.C.’s Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) at a green technology showcase the organization sponsored in January. He was standing by himself in the middle of the room when I walked in, so — in good networking style — I walked up, introduced myself and asked for his card.

Our brief, but engaging conversation quickly zeroed in on the DCSEU’s mission, which, he said, is all about what happens when most of the quick and easy energy-efficiency measures — the proverbial low-hanging fruit of the energy industry — have been achieved.

This challenge is not hypothetical. The uncertainties of federal energy policy notwithstanding, the nation’s capital is an extremely energy savvy and energy efficient city. It ranked No. 13 on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with a particularly high score on building energy management.

Basic energy efficiency is still a core concern for Trabue; the DCSEU distributed close to 20,000 free LED light bulbs to its residential customers in 2017, many to low-income customers. But, he said, the utility’s is now more intently focused on disruptive technologies — today’s startups and pilot projects — that in a few years could become industry standards or best practices.

“We want to bring the right people together – entrepreneurs, innovators and decision-makers – to support early adoption and address barriers to entry to the D.C. market,” he said.

The DCSEU was recently mentioned on the Smart Electric Power Alliance's (SEPA) Blog. Read the entire piece. 

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Ben Burdick
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