What started as an unknown six months ago has become a key component in determining the future for Hoosier Energy and its 18 member cooperatives.


The DER (distributed energy resources) Strategy Subcommittee met for the first time at Hoosier Energy headquarters in Bloomington back in September and has gathered momentum ever since.


Featuring six member cooperative representatives – Colton Carden of Bartholomew County REMC, Nick Geswein of Harrison REMC, Brian Reynolds of Jackson County REMC, John Gates of Johnson County REMC, Tammy Haenlein of South Central Indiana REMC and Sandy Cason of Whitewater Valley REMC – the committee was formed at the request of Hoosier Energy’s Managers Association to develop, evaluate and implement DER strategies. There are also a handful of Hoosier Energy committee members in video producer Ben Turner, member relations specialists Kyle Coulson and Justin Thompson, forecasting analyst Erica Steinfeldt and government relations manager Matt Randall with Hoosier Energy facilitators Linda Margison of emerging energy resources and manager of member solutions Blake Kleaving making a baker’s dozen in all.


“Linda and I co-sponsoring the subcommittee between our Emerging Energy Resources and Member Solutions departments is an example of yet another form of integrated planning initiatives within Hoosier to promote collaboration and refined strategic direction of pilots, programs and educational resources,” Kleaving said.


The new committee also has roots in a previous group – the Demand Side Management (DSM) Subcommittee – which Cason also served on.


“After two years serving on (the DSM committee), I feel a lot of progress was made to improve the programs and services that make up the HEPN marketing and DSM program,” Cason said. “The group based our recommendations from internal program statistics, member cooperative survey data and a DSM subcommittee anonymous vote. Once our recommendations were presented, and approved by the manager’s association, those managers felt the need to establish the DER Strategy subcommittee.


“The new committee’s focus is on Hoosier Energy’s strategic priorities in distributed energy resources and integrated planning. Having members from Hoosier’s emerging technology department has been a great addition. Together, we are exploring ideas and initiatives in areas such as EV strategy and a redesign of the Residential and C&I Rebate programs.”


The diversity of the group, from engineering to energy advisors to key accounts and more, has helped aid the subcommittee’s work.


“This mix of backgrounds brings in a fresh element to our discussions,” said Cason, who is Director of Member Services, Corporate Relations at Whitewater Valley. “I feel we can work together acknowledging what each of us brings to the group.”


Fellow subcommittee member Haenlein, Vice President Member Services at South Central Indiana, agrees.


“The different perspectives provide the subcommittee the opportunity to examine topics from all angles,” she said. “Each person is sharing their experiences and insights in our discussions.”


Those discussions are centered on the future, not just of the industry, but of the cooperative members continuing to find value and satisfaction in the programs offered. That effort covers the spectrum.


“Educational resources are a common theme among the group,” Cason said. “There is also a group consensus that decisions and/or recommendations we make should be member-driven.”


Said Haenlein: “The subcommittee’s focus on emerging technologies has been a priority. We are discussing emerging technology research and data at each meeting to best position future programs that will benefit members and cooperatives.”


The research and data gathering, from electric vehicles to smart thermostats and more, remains at the forefront for the DER subcommittee, which has begun to find its footing six months into a two-year term. That will guide the actions yet to come.


“Our actionable focus right now is on setting priorities for the subcommittee and evaluating future programs,” Haenlein said. “As we continue gaining momentum, we’ll be able to dive deeper into specific programming priorities such as educational tools, affordability and reliability.”