Karys Arisohn, Zondits staff, 4/28/2023
New Orleans is world-renowned for its distinctive music, Creole cuisine, unique dialects, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The National AESP Conference was celebrated a week after Fat Tuesday, Feb. 27- March 2 at the Marriott on Canal Street in the historic heart of the city, a block from the French Quarter and vibrant nightlife along Bourbon Street. And just past the French Quarter are the serious jazz, blues, and rock & roll clubs of the Marigny.
The celebratory atmosphere was present from the moment I got off the plane. Dancing to a brass band while I waited for my luggage, I thought about the AESP 2023 theme: Doing Everything Differently! And how different the presentation topics were this year: indigenous and immigrant-led projects, electrification programs that serve everyone, cultural changes needed to focus on underserved communities, and legislation that focuses on environmental justice and equitable service. There was a reason that almost 20 of our clients were there – these topics come as a breath of fresh air amid their paramount quest to decarbonize our energy.
The official sessions were great, but the best part of any conference is the networking. Spending individual time with utility representatives, account managers, trade allies, and fellow consultants that are interested in working together toward a better, cleaner, energy future always reminds me of why conferences are so important. And, how dearly they were missed during the pandemic.
I joined over a dozen of my colleagues at the conference, and many other firms were similarly represented. Meeting peers and mentors in person was a highlight as we fired off selfies like a gaggle of tourists.
The customers we serve are the heart of everything we do and our true motivation to present and learn at every conference we attend, especially AESP. Yet the conference focus was a reminder that there is a larger public need that our industry must serve. Equitably transitioning to a clean energy economy is going to take supreme ingenuity and effort. I look forward to participating more and joining others inspiring to be thought leaders escaping our comfort zones, to write, present, and contribute.
The stress of dry-runs, late nights, and even worries about leaving kids for several nights are all worth it when one experiences the pride and satisfaction of collaborating with a professional group. I saw our client cheering for me from the audience, feeling proud that we were representing them and all.
Information regarding the topics presented and the plans for the 2024 conference in San Antonio, Texas are available here: https://s36.a2zinc.net/clients/AESP/annual2023/Public/MainHall.aspx?ID=34&sortMenu=101000