October 21, 2011
Ignoring Stalemate in Congress, States Still Embrace Energy Efficiency
by Robert Kropp
Massachusetts displaces California in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's fifth
study of states' energy efficiency efforts.
The economy may be a disaster, and Congressional has failed to come up with a meaningful national
energy policy, but it hasn't stopped states from taking energy efficiency measures to reduce costs,
create jobs, and benefit the environment.
That's the conclusion of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
(ACEEE), which for the fifth time has ranked states according to their leadership in energy
efficiency policies and programs. In fact, "As they have over the past decades, states continue to
provide the leadership needed to forge an energy-efficient economy," the new edition of ACEEE's State Energy
Efficiency Scorecard says.
Despite the acrimonious debate in Washington, the report
says, state governments led by either major party supported legislation improving energy
efficiency. For example, a bill in Colorado was sponsored by the Republican legislature and signed
by the Republican governor. Major legislation was also enacted in Republican strongholds such as
Maine and Texas, as well as in traditionally Democratic states such as New York.
message here is that energy efficiency is a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders
from both sides of the aisle can support," said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel.
the first time in five years, California is no longer the leading state for energy efficiency
measures. That designation now belongs to Massachusetts, which edged out California with a score of
45.5 out of 50 points. California scored 44 points. The rest of the top four consists of New York
and Oregon; five states tied for the fifth-leading score. In the top ten for the first time is
Maryland, which was also honored as being one of the most improved states.
Governor Deval Patrick attributed the state's top showing to its Green Communities Program. "We set aggressive goals and
laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency -- and now we are proud to be a
model for the nation and world," he said.
On the other side of the coin, the
worst-performing states are North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Alabama, even
though it ranked in the lowest ten, was also honored for being among the most improved.
The Scorecard's methodology assesses states' performance in six areas: utility and public
benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and
power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards.
The key findings
of the report, which confirm that states continue to consider energy efficiency as a key strategy,
• Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs increased to $4.5 billion in
2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009, and are likely to continue to grow;
• 29 states—up from
20 in 2010 and only 10 in 2009—have adopted, or are making significant progress toward adopting,
the latest energy-saving building codes for homes and commercial properties;
• 24 states have
adopted an Energy Efficiency Resource
Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives utility-sector
investments in energy efficiency programs;
• States have reduced financial, technical, and
regulatory barriers to adoption and deployment of combined heat and power (CHP) systems; and
Leading stated have adopted policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled and promote the
purchase and manufacture of efficient vehicles.
Despite overall improvement, the report
concludes, "A wide gap remains…between states near the top and those at the bottom of the Scorecard
rankings. Because of market barriers and the regulated nature of the energy sector, a regulatory
environment that energy efficiency is critical to reach its full potential."