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Employment Grows in Energy Efficiency; Commercial Sector Expected to Make Significant Gains in 2013

PHOENIX, March 20, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In its annual State of the Industry report, the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) today reported that employment in the energy efficiency field is expected to increase in 2013, led by growth in the commercial and industrial sector.

The report, based in part on a survey of members of the association and interviews with industry thought leaders, found that in 2012, 66 percent of the respondents reported that the number of employees involved in energy efficiency and demand response activities had grown. The survey also found that 63 percent projected an increase for 2013. One thought leader commented that more states are going to increase energy efficiency, and no state has peaked in energy efficiency potential, so the number of workers needed will continue to rise.

AESP's State of the Industry report follows on the heels of Friday's press release from the White House elaborating on President Obama's plan to put the U.S. on track for a more secure energy future. "When we conducted our survey in December, the measures proposed by the president – such as $200 million dedicated to a 'Race to the Top' challenge, and making the renewable energy Production Tax Credit permanent and refundable – were not public knowledge," said AESP president and CEO Meg Matt. "So it is exciting to see that energy efficiency is forecasted to move ahead, even without federal mandates."

Energy efficiency will undoubtedly receive a huge boost if President Obama's initiatives come to fruition. However, what remains unchanged are the skills needed to support continued industry growth which was underscored in the report. Employers cite a need for analytical skills for big data; energy engineering for design, implementation and evaluation; market research and management; project management, tracking, and reporting. The most promising trends continue to be increased energy efficiency activities at the state level, and changing customer attitudes and interests about energy efficiency.

While challenges remain in converting consumer behaviors toward acceptance of energy efficiency and demand response programs, the commercial and industrial sector remains a largely untapped market with the greatest potential for expansion.

According to the report, "many in the commercial sector are looking for cost savings in the sluggish economy and energy can be a substantial percent of their operating costs. An increasing number of these customers are putting in place corporate sustainability or energy efficiency policies. They also tend to have relationships with their utilities, which can be leveraged into energy efficiency program participation."

The report also identified the biggest barriers to consumer adoption of energy efficiency programs:

  • Lack of awareness of available utility programs
  • The economic recovery
  • Low natural gas prices
  • Reduction in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Technological barriers to deployment of programs
  • Consumer privacy concerns

According to the report, "consumers seem to fit in two general camps: they feel they've done enough, or they don't feel they can/want to spend the money on seemingly long-term returns from energy savings."

And, "people are aware of easy things, such as CFLs and attic insulation, but are unaware or unwilling to change behavior for more complex measures, such as inefficient electronics or large standby draws [devices plugged in but not in use still use standby power]."

"We are excited to see the growth opportunities evolve in the commercial sector; our industry needs to continue to focus on raising awareness at the consumer level of the inexpensive, low-risk strategies that consumers can employ, working with their utilities to lower energy usage and expense," said Matt.

AESP's State of the Industry report is available to members and to the press on request.

Report Methodology

The 2013 AESP State of the Industry Report used two primary research methods:

  • An online AESP member survey, which focused on identifying emerging trends and opportunities in the energy efficiency/demand response industry, as well as providing demographic data on the survey respondents' organizations. AESP developed the survey and it was fielded in December 2012.
  • Interviews with thought leaders from across the energy efficiency/demand response sectors, which provided insight into emerging trends, and key policy/program issues in 2013 and the coming years. The AESP Publications Committee interviewed 17 thought leaders in December 2012 and January 2013.

The Association of Energy Services Professionals (www.aesp.org) provides professional development programs, a network of energy practitioners, and promotes the transfer of knowledge and experience. Our members work in the energy services industry and represent electric and natural gas utilities, public benefits associations, regulatory and non-profit entities, vendors, manufacturers and consulting firms. Founded in 1989, AESP is a member-based association dedicated to improving the delivery and implementation of energy efficiency, energy management and distributed renewable resources. AESP provides professional development programs, a network of energy practitioners, and promotes the transfer of knowledge and experience.

CONTACT: David Harrison 410-804-1728 david@harrisoncommunications.netSource: AESP -Association of Energy Services Professionals

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