Each year since 2007, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Washington, D.C., has published an annual ranking of states based on their commitments to energy efficiency. The 14th edition, the “2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard,” was released.
The report noted that, “Following a vibrant 2019 that saw states and utilities adopt ambitious climate goals, clean energy struggled somewhat this year to maintain a place on the policy agenda. Governments at all levels had to abruptly shift their focus to mitigate the health and economic impacts of a deadly global pandemic, and by the summer of 2020, COVID-19 forced more than 600,000 people in the clean energy sector out of work, with energy efficiency contractors among those hit hardest.”
However, according to this year’s report, despite the challenges, states made progress on energy efficiency, including important clean energy bills and rule-makings, as well as energy efficiency-related policies.
The report ranked states in five categories: utilities, transportation (including electric vehicles), building energy efficiency policies, state government-led initiatives and appliance standards.
As relates to utilities, the report noted that utilities spent approximately $6.84 billion on electricity efficiency programs in 2019. Reported savings from these programs totaled approximately 26.9 million megawatt-hours (MWh). In addition, 27 states have now established mandatory energy savings targets to drive investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs.
For transportation, the report noted that a growing number of states have implemented zero-emission vehicle rules.
“States are prioritizing electric vehicles (EVs) and the charging infrastructure needed to serve them,” the report said. “Most states have taken some level of action to support EV deployment, from customer incentives to planning and regulatory reforms.”
Regarding building energy efficiency programs, the report noted that the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) has established minimum building energy performance standards, expected to improve efficiency by an estimated 10% or more in residential and commercial buildings. Many of the voting members for the new IECC represented cities and states in the United States.
And this year’s overall top five states for energy efficiency, according to the ACEEE rankings? Number one is California, with Massachusetts coming in a close second.
“California continued to set the pace in energy savings with adoption of net zero energy building codes, stringent vehicle emission standards, and industry-leading appliance standards,” said the report.
The other three were Vermont, Rhode Island and New York. Nevada was this year’s most improved state, with the District of Columbia, New Mexico, Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia also showing notable improvements.