I just retired (finally!). Now I can look back and say what I really think. ;) Al Thumann founded AEE when I was an engineering student, but back then I couldn't afford either the time or the money to join. I saw the new organization was exactly what I wanted to carry me through a career in energy management. AEE brought all energy professionals together without bias. AEE was pioneering and innovative but not radical or confrontational. A few short years later I did join and never regretted it. In the first 12 years of membership, every career opportunity came either directly or indirectly to me from AEE channels.
One opportunity was actually volunteer service to the US Government. (Who would ever have thought?!) Sen. John Glenn's office called AEE, and Al directed him to our National Capital Chapter while I was president. The Senator wanted expert advice on the first Energy Policy Act of 1992. The Chapter quickly provided the advice pro bono to both houses of Congress. Result: AEE's total CEM program was incorporated into EPAct as a requirement for the whole Federal Government. How often does anybody get to make such a difference?