Thursday, March 31, 2016

What States Are Doing to Compete in Energy Efficiency

Just this past month the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) published its Ninth Annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard which ranks states on their energy saving progress. Sadly for us Californians we did not take the top spot, but placed second to Massachusetts which took the number 1 spot for the fifth year in a row. With the release of this annual scorecard I am happy to see that someone or something is keeping state governments  liable for states energy progress. But what are states improving upon to even crack the top 10 of this annual scorecard?
The ACEEE scorecard is not a ranking system solely based on the views of the organization itself. The scorecard is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hogan. Rankings for the scorecard are based on analysis of each states energy efficiency policies, program efforts and offerings that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries and transportation. The group focused upon six key policy areas: utility and public benefits, transportation, building energy codes and compliance, combined heat and power, state government initiatives.
See how and why states crack the top ten when they are ranked on each of the policy categories.
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont topped this category since all three have a long track record of success. All three states continue to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies.
Energy Efficiency in Transportation
California, Massachusetts and New York lead in this category. Massachusetts continues to promote smart growth in areas all throughout the state with state delivered financial incentives. While on the other hand the state of New York has implemented a vehicles per mile traveled reduction target. No word on California’s efforts in this category.
Building Energy Codes and Compliance
For this grouping there were only two states that made the top grade, California and Illinois. Both states continue to improve upon codes each year.
Combined Heat and Power
Massachusetts, Maryland and California were the highest ranking states.
State Government Initiatives
California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York are the top leaders on this policy area.
Now with those being stated I am sure you are interested to see who cracked the top ten.

1.       Massachusetts
2.       California
3.     Virginia
4.     Rhode Island
5.     Oregon
6.      Connecticut
7.     Maryland
8.     Washington
9.     New York
10.   Minnesota and Illinois (tied)

Maybe having states being pitted against one another in a friendly competition can be a win for the US energy grid as well as residents. Savings figures for 2014 from energy efficiency are pretty impressive. In total approximately 25.7 megawatt-hours were saved for the year, that equates to 0.7% of retail electricity sales all across the US. As for gas savings in 2014 those were reported to be around 374 million therms. With all of those savings combined it seems as if the US is making major leaps and bounds when it comes to energy efficiency. But…sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The US ranks thirteenth out of sixteen in the world. Us Americans seem to view ourselves and our country as the innovators of the world, but these rankings clearly tell a different story.

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released in 2014 and showed Germany, Italy, the EU, China and France as the top five leaders in the world for energy efficiency. You may ask yourself Germany taking the top spot…really? Well yes really. Germany has an outstanding comprehensive energy strategy which includes tight guidelines on building codes, retrofit policies, and tax credit and loan programs. The country has its own state development bank building renovation loan program which stimulates private investment. Just in 2013 alone the loan program produced around 46 billion dollars.
The United States has a ways to go on as a country on the issue of energy efficiency. When comparing the 2014 scorecard to the 2012 one ACEEE stated that the US’s improvement was unchanged. The Congressman Peter Welch when interviewed stated that he hopes that energy efficiency in the US will get a boost from the federal air pollution rules that will be enforced on states. Some other items that were outlined as being hurdles to the top for the US were transportation and not having a national energy savings plan.
With fingers crossed maybe the states will help the United States climb the rankings and make the country a better healthier place to live for all.

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