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AEE West Highlights: Strategies for a Clean Energy Future

The recent AEE West conference kicked off with a series of insightful presentations in the opening session, highlighting key strategies and initiatives crucial for achieving a clean energy future. Collectively, these presentations underscored the need to work together to align policy, funding, and implementation to achieve a sustainable, equitable, and resilient energy future for all. Here are some of the key points discussed by the speakers:

Bill Kent – Executive Director, AEE

  • Energy Efficiency’s Impact: Bill Kent emphasized the tremendous impact of energy efficiency, noting its crucial role in achieving sustainability goals.
  • Youth Engagement: He highlighted the critical stance of millennials and Gen Zs towards climate change, underlining the importance of engaging the younger generation in sustainability efforts.
  • Key Players in Energy Transition: Kent emphasized that “We are the Doers,” suggesting that members and industry professionals are key to driving the energy transition.
  • AEE’s Focus: He discussed AEE’s focus on enhancing engagement and awareness within the broader climate community, showcasing the organization’s commitment to collaborative action.
  • Vision for Clean Energy: Kent stressed the importance of aligning policy, funding, incentives, and implementation to ensure a smooth transition towards clean, reliable, equitable, and resilient energy for all.
  • Individual Responsibility: He concluded by highlighting the role individuals play in the transition, whether at home, work, or in their communities.

Neeraj Joshi – CTO, Microsoft

  • Grid’s Importance: Neeraj Joshi emphasized the critical role of the grid, stating that Microsoft is dedicated to procuring 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.
  • Renewable Power Grid: He stressed the importance of an intelligent, highly secure, renewable power grid on the cloud, highlighting Microsoft’s commitment to sustainability.
  • Partnerships and Co-Innovation: Joshi discussed Microsoft’s partner ecosystem and its value for co-innovation, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in driving sustainable solutions.
  • Digital Transformation: He highlighted digital transformation as the foundation for modern power generation, emphasizing the need for embracing efficient work practices.
  • AI in Energy Industry: Joshi discussed how AI will reinvent the energy and resources industry, enabling collaboration for co-innovation and empowering the workforce.

Kerry Meade – Executive Director, Smart Buildings Center

  • Climate Warming: Kerry Meade highlighted the alarming rate of climate warming, stating that it’s happening 10 times faster than in the past million years.
  • Building Emissions: She discussed the significant contribution of transportation and buildings to US emissions, with buildings alone accounting for 70% of US electricity consumption.
  • Need for Change: Meade emphasized the need for rapid change, pointing out that we need to double the grid by 2050 to meet our sustainability goals.
  • Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEB): She discussed the importance of GEBs in enabling a green, reliable, and equitable power system, citing potential energy savings from integrating state-of-the-art technologies.
  • Energy Efficiency: Meade stressed the importance of every building being efficient, connected, smart, and flexible, highlighting the role of buildings as enablers of sustainability.

Craig Smith – Chief Customer Officer, Seattle City Light

  • Green Energy: Craig Smith highlighted Seattle City Light’s commitment to green energy, with 90% of its current resources being green.
  • Electric Vehicles and Heat Pumps: He discussed the impact of transportation electrification and the increasing use of heat pumps on the grid, emphasizing the need for strategic planning.
  • Strategic Planning: Smith outlined Seattle City Light’s goal to design the best mix of resources to meet the city’s needs over the next 20 years, including electrification partnerships and intentional investments.
  • Community Focus: He emphasized the importance of reducing disproportionate health, climate, and economic harms experienced by Seattle’s environmental justice community through electrification partnerships.

The AEE West conference provided a platform for experts and industry leaders to discuss crucial strategies and initiatives for achieving a clean energy future. The insights shared underscore the importance of collaboration, innovation, and individual action in driving sustainable change.

This article was originally published May 6, 2024.