Friday, October 21, 2011

Post # 82 - New ACEEE "Scorecard" Ranks States' Pursuit of Energy Efficiency

Last year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit organization promoting energy efficiency, released a study analyzing the results of residential feedback programs spanning over 30 years. ACEEE concluded that smart meters, in and of themselves, cannot be expected to significantly reduce either residential power use or consumer electric bills. Among other aspects, increased energy efficiency is a necessary adjunct.

In a more recent development, ACEEE this month issued its “2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard,” a comprehensive ranking of the states based on an array of metrics intended to capture best practices and recognize leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation. The focus of the Scorecard is not on smart grid issues, but rather the broader issued of energy efficiency.

States were evaluated in six energy efficiency policy areas: utility and public benefits programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state government initiatives and appliance efficiency standards. Among the 2011 Scorecard's key findings:

»Because of continuing economic uncertainty, states are continuing to use energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost savings, promote technoligical innovation, and stimulate growth.

»Massachusets has overtaken California in ACEEE's rankings as the leader. Following in ACEEE's "top ten" are New York, Vermont, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Maryland.

»Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama and Maryland are the most improved states, with Michigan, Illinois and Maryland significantly increasing utility-sector energy efforts n order to meet energy savings targets established in Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS).

»A total of 24 states have now adopted EERS, which set long-term energy savings targes and drive utility-sector investments in energy efficiency programs. States that adopted EERS policies in 2007 and 2008 are realizing signifigant energy savings and moving ahead in the Scorecard's ranking.

»Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs increased to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in the prior year.

»States continue to improve policies to reduce financial, technical and regulatory barriers to adoption of combined heat and power systems, which generate electriciy and thermal energy in an integrated system.

»Twenty-nine states have either adopted or have made significant progress towards the adoption of the latest energy-savings residential and commercial building codes.

»Some states "remain ahead of the curve" in adopting policies to reduce vehicle miles travelled and to promote the purchase and manufacture of energy-efficient vehicles. On the flip side, however, ACEEE finds that over half the states have "minimal or no" policies to encourage energy efficiency in the transportation sector.

Overall, ACEEE concludes that energy efficiency policies and programs continued to advance in 2011. In particular, a group of "leading states remains steadfast in their commitment to the efficient use of energy in transportation, buildings, and industry. . . ." And a "growing number" of states have made progress in the area of energy efficiency -- "some rapidly."

At the same time, ACEEE finds that a wide gap remains between states near the top and near the botton of the Scorecard's rankings.

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