States continue to move strongly in 2012 to advance energy efficiency initiatives regardless of which political party is in control of state legislatures and governors’ offices, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on the release of its sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
Available online at http://aceee.org/sector/state-policy/scorecard, the ACEEE State Scorecardshows that the top 10 energy efficiency states are Massachusetts (in its second year atop the rankings), California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.
The 10 states most in need of improvement (starting with last) are Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nebraska.
The three most improved states are Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina. All three states significantly increased their budgets for electric efficiency programs in 2011. Oklahoma put in place natural gas efficiency programs for the first time in 2011, and Montana dramatically increased its budgets for these programs. Other states making significant progress this year include Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, all of which increased budgets for energy efficiency under their statewide energy savings goals.
ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said: “These findings show that energy efficiency is being embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike at the state level. That nonpartisan status is crucial because too many conversations about U.S. energy policy begin with the false premise that the only way to safeguard our reliable energy future is to expand our supply. While some supply investments will be needed, the truth is that step one should always be energy efficiency, our cheapest, cleanest, and fastest energy resource. Energy efficiency improvements help businesses, governments, and consumers meet their needs by using less energy, saving them money, driving investment across all sectors of the economy, creating much-needed jobs, and reducing environmental impacts.”
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said smart statewide policies have led to major improvements for Oklahoma on the ACEEE scorecard.
Gov. Fallin said: “As governor of Oklahoma, making government smaller, smarter, and more efficient is among my top priorities. Energy inefficiency wastes natural resources and tax dollars that could otherwise be used for essential services like education, transportation, and public safety. Thanks to efficiency programs by our state utilities, state tax incentives for more energy-efficient construction, and our state plan to achieve 20 percent energy savings by 2020 among all state agencies and entities, Oklahoma is one of the most-improved states on this year’s ACEEE scorecard. With innovative efficiency and conservation policies, Oklahoma is leading the way on energy conservation.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said: “We are proud to have maintained the number one spot in the nation because of our continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency. Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs and leading the way to a more sustainable energy future for Massachusetts.”
ACEEE Senior Policy Analyst and State Scorecard lead author Ben Foster said: “We find that more and more states are taking action to improve energy efficiency and move up in our rankings, and it’s no secret why they want to accomplish that:energy efficiency is a pragmatic and effective strategy for promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and securing environmental benefits. The Scorecard serves as a benchmark that encourages states to continue strengthening their commitment to energy efficiency.”
Other Key Findings
- Massachusetts retained the top spot in the State Scorecard rankings for the second year in a row, having overtaken California last year, based largely on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. Among other things, the Act spurred greater investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures.
- Annual savings from all customer-funded energy efficiency programs topped 18 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010, a 40 percent increase over a year earlier. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity the state of Wyoming uses each year.
- Utility budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency programs rose to almost $7 billion in 2011, a 27 percent increase over a year earlier. Of this, $5.9 billion went to electric efficiency programs, with the remaining $1.1 billion for natural gas programs.
- Nearly half of the states (24) have adopted and adequately funded an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets include Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Ten states have adopted energy efficiency codes for new building construction that exceed the IECC 2009 or ASHRAE 90.1-2007 codes for residential and commercial building construction. Two additional states, Maryland and Illinois, have advanced even further by adopting the most recent and most stringent code for residential construction, the 2012 IECC.
The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard benchmarks all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the policies and programs that encourage the efficient use of energy in many sectors of the economy. The report aims to capture the diversity of efforts related to energy efficiency happening at the state level and to encourage friendly competition among the states to craft innovative policies and programs that deliver the economic, environmental, and energy security benefits of efficiency.
The report examines six of the primary policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and “public benefits” programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power (CHP) policies; state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency; and appliance and equipment standards. The baseline year against which ACEEE assessed policy and program changes varies by policy category. Policy scores are based on policies in place as of September 2012.