An Outsider Looking In…

“Oh good, you know about EERS policies! So do you know a lot about energy efficiency?” Uh no, no actually I don’t know anything about energy efficiency policies or energy efficiency or what I’m doing here…

That is how my first two weeks at NEEP felt. Between writing bill summaries, reading over the organization’s past work, and attending two state energy board meetings, I felt like I walked into a different universe–one filled with acronyms and an unexpected mixture of state governments, utilities, nonprofits, and who knows who else.

Source: http://neep.org/index

Source: http://neep.org/index

NEEP stands for Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships. Founded in 1996 as a non-profit by Sue Coakley, NEEP’s mission is “to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education” throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. NEEP’s “vision is that the region will fully embrace energy efficiency as a cornerstone of sustainable energy policy to help achieve a cleaner environment and a more reliable and affordable energy system.”

NEEP’s work spans a wide variety of areas, including public policy, the EM&V Forum, buildings and energy codes, and the DLC consortium. EM&V forum focuses on the evaluating, measuring, verifying, and reporting “the savings, costs, and emission impacts of energy efficiency and other demand-side resources.” The DLC consortium is a project run by NEEP that works to enhance quality, performance and energy efficient commercial sector lighting through working with federal, regional, state, utility, and energy efficiency members.

When I arrived on my first day, I walked into the Lexington office not knowing what to expect when I opened the doors. What I found turned out to be a quiet space, a cubicle with my name on it, and a white board with ‘Welcome to NEEP, Serafina!’ scribbled on it in green marker. After a minute of searching I found my boss, Josh Craft. More like he jumped out of the computer server room and almost into me as I introduced myself to another member of the staff. He showed me my cubicle and gave me a quick tour around the office before we headed to the NEEP weekly Monday morning check-in meeting where I met almost every member of NEEP’s staff in about two minutes and then proceeded to be completely dazed for the rest of the day.

NEEP Staff  Source: http://neep.org/about-neep/index

NEEP Staff
Source: http://neep.org/about-neep/index

The first two weeks I spent coming into the office on Mondays and going to state board meetings on Wednesdays (I only intern 2 days a week right now). By the third week, NEEP’s annual Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit began. On Monday afternoon all of us at NEEP piled into cars, vans, and onto bicycles to head to Springfield, MA for a two-day conference on all things energy efficiency. About 90% of me felt nervous about the conference, but the other 10% of me felt excited to finally (hopefully) learn about energy efficiency policy and programs. After my 48 hours in Springfield learning about different sectors of energy efficiency I think I might actually know a thing or two about what is going on in the world of energy efficiency – just don’t ask me yet about any of the acronyms, there are way too many and they are all unexplained, but I’m getting there.

As I head into my fourth week at NEEP, I am excited to see where this internship will take me. I am the public policy intern, which means that I translate new energy efficiency policies considered by states throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region so that the public (and other staff at NEEP) can understand what a bill is trying to do and why. This information is sometimes included in a “policy tracker” released by NEEP that is used to inform people and other organizations on what states in the region are working on. Besides this, I attend meetings, where NEEP is involved in developing new protocols and guidelines on how to make the Northeast region more energy efficient and to increase reliability within the electricity grid. I will also contribute to the blog, Energy Efficiency Matters, once I have a better grasp on energy efficiency. Other projects will head my way after Josh and I discuss what the public policy team needs my help with.

Although I only worked 9 days at NEEP this June, I can tell that my time at NEEP is going to be extremely informative and influential on where my future takes me. NEEP is a strongly founded nonprofit, 17 years strong, and growing and is a well-respected organization filled with people who have expertise in the realm of energy efficiency, all of whom I will learn a great deal from. With the opportunities this internship will give me and the people I will meet along these seven months, I think that the knowledge I will gain is the most valuable part of this internship. One month in and I already know much more about energy efficiency than I did coming into this internship. With six months left, I can’t imagine how far I will come when all is said and done.

About Serafina Zeringo