In the nationwide drive for a cleaner energy mix, efficiency continues to take on an expanding role. According to a recent publication, state governments are helping to advance the trend.
In September, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its ninth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which assesses state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries and transportation systems. It considers six policy areas: utility and public benefits, transportation, building energy codes and compliance, combined heat and power (CHP), state government-led energy-efficiency initiatives, and appliance and equipment standards.
According to the scorecard, the top states for energy efficiency are Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington and New York, with Minnesota and Illinois tied for 10th place.
Massachusetts retains the top spot for the fifth consecutive year based on a strong commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act. In California, requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, major efforts to achieve energy efficiency in schools and the implementation of a cap-and-trade program earned the state several points, landing it only a half-point behind Massachusetts in the state rankings.
Calling this year a “tipping point” for energy efficiency, ACEEE executive director Steve Nadel said, “State policies are increasingly encouraging utilities to invest in cost-effective efficiency, prompting them to adopt new business models that align their interests with those of customers and policymakers.”
The numbers are convincing. According to the ACEEE, savings from electricity-efficiency programs in 2014 totaled approximately 25.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh), equivalent to about 0.7 percent of total retail electricity sales across the nation in 2014 and a 5.8 percent increase over last year.
Twenty states rose in the rankings from last year, with California; Maryland; Illinois; Washington, D.C.; and Texas making the biggest gains. Another 16 states fell in the rankings, due to such factors as policy or program rollbacks or failure to keep pace as other states expanded efficiency efforts.