Five years of Smart Energy Decisions - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Sourcing Renewables  -  February 19, 2021 - By John Failla

Five years of Smart Energy Decisions

Inspired by a desire to help accelerate the energy transition and the principles espoused by Jigar Shah in his book "Creating Climate Wealth," five years ago today on Friday, February 19, 2016, we published the first issue of our newsletter with this welcome message “Each issue of our weekly newsletter, created exclusively for Fortune 1000 commercial and industrial energy executives just like you, will feature news, expert columns, and research. Here's to your success!"  We had 139 readers.

While our community has expanded to include cities, higher education, and healthcare, our mission to help large power users reduce their carbon emissions and energy costs by adopting best practices in energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption remains etched in stone. Expanding global interest in reducing carbon emissions and energy costs is accelerating engagement with Smart Energy Decisions content as evidenced by the fact that 34% of the 784,000 visits to our website and 45% of our 1,530,000 website page views have taken place in just the last 12 months from 100+ countries.

As I reflect on all that’s happened in the last five years, here are the three events (it was tough to decide) that stand out as the most significant accelerants to the growth of our community and the importance of our mission:

MGM’s decision to pay an $87M exit fee to sever ties with NV energy in May 2016. This “shot heard around the world” was a declaration of energy independence that made the entire utility sector stand up and take notice. Until that time, large customers were getting a stiff arm from utilities regarding interest in greening their supply with renewable energy. MGM’s decision put utilities on notice that large customers were going to source renewable energy with them or without them. The utility sector has never been the same. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rose McKinney James, who was actively involved in the decision-making as a member of the MGM Board.

President Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement in May 2017. Without knowing it, Trump did more for the adoption of renewable energy with this one policy move than anyone would have ever imagined. Corporates large and small, cities, states, higher education, and others declared in unison that their commitment to fighting climate change in line with the Paris Accord would not be denied. New NGO initiatives spread like wildfire as large power users made an emphatic statement that “We’re still in”.

Growth in ESG investing makes corporate sustainability programs an imperative in 2020. Energy and sustainability managers have long bemoaned how difficult it is to get finance departments on board with renewable energy projects. That’s changing quickly as having an ESG program with a clear commitment to sustainability is now table stakes for effective access to capital markets. As a result, CFO’s have gone from deterrents to accelerants of corporate sustainability programs. In my view, this most recent event will prove to be the greatest driver of growth in corporate efforts to reduce carbon emissions over the next 24 months.

In many ways, I believe we’re just getting started as I’ve never been more excited about the future of Smart Energy Decisions and our growing global community. COVID-19 has made us a stronger and more resilient enterprise with an expanded array of capabilities to serve.

We started our journey five years ago as a mission-driven enterprise committed to helping you successfully navigate the energy transition. That commitment is stronger than ever and is forged with deep gratitude for the efforts of the SED team, and the support of our community, advisory board, and supplier partners over the last five years. Our best work is ahead of us and we are grateful for the opportunity. Here’s to your success!


John Failla is the Founder and Editorial Director of Smart Energy Decisions. He has more than 30 years of experience in B2B media as an executive responsible for developing and managing digital media products, magazines, and face-to-face events. Prior to launching Smart Energy Decisions, John launched and developed Green Retail Decisions, the leading online information resource for retailers on sustainable business practices. 

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