Peter Jacobson is no stranger to energy efficiency. He began his career during the first energy crisis in the early 1970s. While working for Meyer Strong & Jones—a large engineering firm in New York City— Jacobson saw firsthand how advances in lighting technologies and good lighting applications go hand-in-hand. And, with nearly 19 years as ConEdison's lighting specialist for energy-efficient programs, he is fully versed in the role that lighting plays in forging a greener future.

What milestone energy efficiency developments have you seen during your tenure in the lighting industry? Tri-phospher technology in linear lamps was a huge breakthrough. This development started the quality-of-the-visual-environment discussion.

Has the role of the utility company changed over time? No, we are still charged with providing reliable and efficient service through our electric, gas, and steam system. What has changed is the amount of energy that customers now demand.

What's the difference between a utility and an energy company? A utility company is a regulated entity that supplies generation, trans mission, and distribution of services. An energy company, or an energy services company, can purchase energy on an open market and supply the meter services to customers.

How do you communicate information differently when your audience is the public or a professional sector? ConEdison communicates through our public affairs, corporate communications, and government relations groups to give customers the complete story on energy efficiency. I most enjoy speaking to grade school levels so they can best understand how they can be allies at home and school.

Your thoughts on LEDs? We're encouraged by all the rapid development, but we must be careful. It only takes a few bad applications for a product to get a bad name.

What's the next great advance in energy systems? The ability for customers to make daily or hourly changes to their energy usage; this is what the “smart grid” system is all about. Energy efficiency should not be about compromise in lifestyle for commercial or residential environments.