MN PUC Commissioner Nancy Lange: CEE broadened my understanding of efficiency
Over the years, CEE has benefitted from working with amazing people — multitalented, experienced professionals who are instrumental in helping us bring energy efficiency solutions to Minnesotans and advance the field through research. Our employees are our greatest assets; they bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to their roles, and enable us to fulfill our organizational mission.
Nancy Lange was appointed as chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by Governor Mark Dayton in 2013. She is also chair of NARUC’s Energy and Environment Committee, and chairs the Midcontinent States Environmental and Energy Regulators group.
We recently reached out to Commissioner Lange to get her thoughts on her time working with us. Here’s what she shared:
How did your time at CEE impact your work in energy efficiency?
I’ve been engaged in Minnesota energy policy for many years, so I have a clear appreciation for the role that energy efficiency plays in bringing savings to customers, lowering utility system costs, and reducing emissions. CEE helped broaden my understanding of how energy efficiency is refined and improved by research that delves into energy end uses, new technologies, and cost effectiveness. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission does not have direct jurisdiction over efficiency filings of electric and gas utilities, but having a clear understanding of the costs and benefits of energy efficiency helps me evaluate it as an energy resource for utilities, and as an energy service for consumers.
What motivated you to enter the energy sector?
It’s a dynamic sector that influences the state’s economy, affects people’s pocketbooks, and impacts the environment. As a Commissioner, I have the opportunity and responsibility to guide the electric and gas utilities’ plans to meet their customers’ energy needs, advance Minnesota’s energy policies, and proactively prepare for the future. In support of this preparation, I’ve been leading a multi-year effort in grid modernization that encompasses how the electric grid will change in response to new technologies, customer needs and preferences, and policy changes at the state and federal level.
Do you have any advice for people thinking about pursuing a career in this field?
I believe that a digital revolution is under way in the energy sector, in energy efficiency in particular. The opportunity to collect, analyze, and use energy data to drive down costs and improve outcomes for customers and the utilities is vast. The challenge is: How do we manage and make sense of the massive amount of data that will be collected?
My advice for people interested in advancing their careers in energy efficiency, is to develop expertise in energy data — how to collect, analyze and secure data, and apply this information to improve outcomes and bring down costs. Utilities know the data revolution is here, and they’re beginning to build the capabilities that will make the most of it.
What do you enjoy most about your current work?
There are many aspects of being a Commissioner that I enjoy — I get to study energy issues in-depth and I’m challenged to think about them from many different perspectives. However, the aspect of the job that I like the most is that I’m responsible for making decisions that advance the public interest. On some matters, these decisions can be difficult and contentious, but the responsibility and the opportunity to be a decision maker is one that I most appreciate.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
CEE's Policy Framework: 10 essentials that guide our work
In a clean energy Minnesota, markets and utility regulation both matter