Policy Framework

We created this policy framework to acknowledge and make explicit CEE's historical approach to public policy and to publicly commit to key targets we’ll be aiming for as we continue on the road ahead.

Why and How We Work on Policy

1. Commitment to mission. The mission of the Center for Energy and Environment is to discover and deploy the most effective energy solutions that strengthen the economy while improving the environment. We believe energy service for all is an essential element of modern life with profound public implications. We work on policy to maximize societal benefits and minimize adverse consequences associated with this essential service.

2. Energy independence. Midwestern states spend billions importing energy. We work on policies to shift away from energy imports when it is cost effective to do so, to reduce energy consumption and expand use of the Midwest’s abundant renewable energy resources. Energy independence enhances the resilience and vitality of our local economies.

3. Meeting the global climate challenge. The transition to a carbon-neutral clean energy economy is one of the great challenges of our time. The imperative for change grows daily as the impacts of climate change manifest in new and unpredictable ways. Midwestern states cannot solve climate change by themselves but should lead in reducing carbon emissions as quickly and broadly as possible, consistent with sustaining a healthy economy.

4. Good faith collaboration. We believe that, many times, the best and most durable energy policy outcomes arise from the collaborative efforts of diverse stakeholders listening and working together to identify and address concerns in good faith. This approach can often lead to highest common denominator outcomes, rather than the lowest. We seek common ground to reach higher ground.

What we work to accomplish

5. Reducing energy waste. From excess energy consumption and utility fuel use to higher-than-necessary customer costs, reducing energy-related waste is our top policy priority to serve and protect energy consumers, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and promote economic vitality. Energy efficiency continues to be the least-cost energy resource available to our utilities and consumers to meet both customer needs and the global climate challenge.

6. Empowering customers and communities. Empowering and protecting consumers and communities are core elements of CEE’s mission. We believe that Midwestern policy-makers, regulators, and utilities should increasingly rely on programs and policies that provide communities with meaningful opportunities to implement customized energy solutions, developed in good faith collaboration with the utilities that serve them.
7. Least-cost, most-effective policies. To ensure that publicly directed dollars are spent wisely, Midwestern policy-makers should prioritize clean energy policies that cost the least and are the most effective means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In service of this principle, CEE’s field research to assess the savings potential and performance characteristics of specific energy approaches will continue to be one of our primary contributions to the public interest.

Key focus on utilities and local governments

8. Commitment to the regulatory compact. We work for policies that ensure our utilities are providing energy services in accordance with all aspects of the public interest — providing top-notch consumer services; maintaining high levels of reliability; guaranteeing universal access; assisting customers to manage and reduce their energy use and costs; and dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In exchange for aligning their operations with advancing the public interest, we work to ensure that utilities are given the opportunity to succeed as the primary energy service provider to their customers.

9. Evolving utility business model. Well-regulated utilities can be powerful institutions for advancing the public interest, and the energy utility industry is changing in important ways. We develop and support policies to evolve the ways our utilities provide service and recover their costs, to spur and deploy innovation in the utility industry.

10. Local government collaboration. As with well-regulated utilities, well-run local governments rank among our most powerful institutions to adopt and implement strong clean energy policies and pragmatic, data-driven programs. We work to support our local governments and the communities they serve to drive action that advances the broad public interest in clean energy for all.