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IIlinois Industrial Energy Efficiency: Unleashing an Economic Driver

Posted by Advanced Energy Economy on Aug 10, 2016


[Chicago, August 10, 2016] — Today, Advanced Energy Economy Institute; Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law; and the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) convened a discussion with utility, advanced energy, and thought leaders to discuss the status of the industrial energy efficiency sector in Chicago and across Illinois. AEE Institute and its Illinois state partner, Clean Energy Trust (CET), partnered with the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern University to bring together twenty leading thinkers in the energy industry to discuss the opportunities and challenges for industrial efficiency in Illinois. 

“The conversation taking place on the city and state level about planning for the 21st Century Electricity System is rapidly evolving. It is more important than ever to discuss these changes along with the opportunities and challenges of incorporating advanced energy technology, such as industrial efficiency, to increase the value of the energy we use,” said J.R. Tolbert, senior director of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business group affiliated with AEE Institute. “Collaborative, productive efforts like today’s roundtable allow for Illinois and cities across the Prairie State to take the lead on innovation in the energy sector — and to benefit from savings, growth, and economic competitiveness.”

The industrial sector is the largest user of energy, representing over 30 percent of total electricity usage in Illinois. Various technologies and services can make the use of energy in this industry more efficient. These include upgrades in motors, drives, and other equipment; industrial energy management systems, that analyze and manage energy consumption data within a production facility; demand response (DR) technologies that curtail energy use during periods of peak system demand; and combined heat and power (CHP), which produces both electricity and useful heat from the same fuel, either onsite or through CHP-powered district energy systems. An energy efficiency potential study prepared for Commonwealth Edison estimated that Illinois, by 2018, could easily achieve 5 percent cumulative achievable saving should cost caps remain in place. Without cost caps in place, Illinois would be able to 10 percent cumulative maximum potential if cost caps were lifted.

“There is an important role that industrial efficiency can play in Illinois that provides savings to both businesses and consumers, while spurring economic growth and local and state level,” said Ian Adams, Chief of Staff of CET. “Energy efficiency and demand response programs like Smart Ideas for Business Efficiency, established by ComEd, have saved consumers millions on the cost of energy. We applaud today’s participants for coming together to identify opportunities and outcomes that could reduce barriers and increase participation and investments in energy efficiency.”

AEE Institute and CET brought together energy service businesses, end-users, city and government officials, and thought-leaders to discuss opportunities to capitalize on innovative technologies that save energy for industrial users and potential policy outcomes. The discussion highlighted projects completed by energy service companies in Illinois, which have helped industrial customers make their facilities more efficient and competitive. Additionally, participants learned about technologies available to the industrial sector to increase their competitiveness and reduce their energy costs. The group also highlighted opportunities and challenges surrounding the industrial efficiency sector, including: identifying financing tools, adapting the utility business model to create appropriate incentives, educating energy users about, and building awareness of, the impact of efficiency; and providing customers more access to their energy data. 

“In Illinois, high-efficiency district energy systems, which run primarily on combined heat and power (CHP), are a great option to power the state’s schools, hospitals, hotels, and industrial facilities,” said Jeff Henderson, Associate Director, ISEN. “CHP is just one of many reliable, cost-effective, and resilient energy sources with significant industrial and manufacturing applications throughout the region.”

While Illinois continues to make significant progress on energy efficiency, more can be done to help all consumers. Illinois is presented with various opportunities for improving efficiency programs. An example of a policy measure that could be improved is the restructuring of the cost caps that dictate how much a utility is able to spend on energy efficiency programs. By improving the cost cap measure that is currently in place, utilities would be able to increase their investments in energy efficiency programs and achieve the efficiency goals, which the state is not currently reaching.

“Energy efficiency is a low-cost resource for meeting the state’s energy needs. It provides benefits to energy consumers and employs tens of thousands of Illinoisans in the manufacturing and installation of the products while saving Illinois’ largest companies thousands in energy costs. We hope that today’s conversation will open a dialogue between the region’s utilities, large energy consumers, government officials, and the companies that provide these valuable energy efficiency services,” concluded AEE’s Tolbert.

For more information on the role and size of the energy efficiency sector in the United States, download Advanced Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Now 2016 Market Report. To learn more about various energy efficiency technologies, download This Is Advanced Energy, a comprehensive industry directory with descriptions, photos and case study examples. 

About Advanced Energy Economy and AEE Institute
The Advanced Energy Economy Institute is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the public benefits and opportunities of advanced energy. AEE Institute provides critical data to drive the policy discussion on key issues through commissioned research and reports, data aggregation and analytic tools. AEE Institute also provides a forum where leaders can address energy challenges and opportunities facing the United States. AEE Institute is affiliated with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a 501(c)(6) business association, whose purpose is to advance and promote the common business interests of its members and the advanced energy industry as a whole. AEE and its State and Regional Partner organizations are active in 26 states across the country, representing more than 1,000 companies and organizations in the advanced energy industry. Visit AEE Institute at and AEE at

About Clean Energy Trust
Clean Energy Trust is a clean technology accelerator that fuels innovation to create a healthier environment and more prosperous future. Clean Energy Trust is a 501C3 public charity. CET has developed unique relationships with investors, labs, large corporations, and entrepreneurs to source quality companies for investment. To date, CET has awarded over $4M in funding to 33 clean energy startups. CET has forged connections with public and private sponsors to provide funding and commercialization opportunities for clean energy innovation. Visit CET online at

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Topics: Press Releases