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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, November 2013
WEB Exclusive story

E2 Equals Mass.

The Commonwealth and California lead the nation in energy efficiency policies that work.


n the company of U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) early this month released its annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The Top 10:

  1. Massachusetts
  2. California
  3. New York
  4. Oregon
  5. Connecticut
  6. Rhode Island
  7. Vermont
  8. Washington
  9. Maryland
  10. Illinois

The State Scorecard examines the six policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and "public benefits" programs and policies; transportation polices; building energy codes and compliance; combined heat and power policies; appliance and equipment standards; and state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency.

“Massachusetts retains the top spot for the third year in a row based on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act,” said the ACEEE. “In California, requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have led it to identify several strategies for smart growth, keeping the state in a top position at #2. Connecticut is also closing the gap due to passage of a major energy bill in 2013, and Illinois is making its first appearance in the top 10 this year, reaping the benefits of increased energy savings called for in the state's energy efficiency resource standard.”

"Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in energy efficiency because we have made the choice to shape our future, rather than leave it to chance,” said Gov. Patrick. “We will continue to focus on policies that create jobs, decrease dependence on imported energy sources and protect our environment by reducing emissions."

States needing to boost their efforts include No. 50 North Dakota, No. 49 Wyoming, No. 48 South Dakota, and at a tie for No. 47 Alaska and Mississippi, which curiously also appeared on ACEEE's list of the top five most improved states. Last year Mississippi passed comprehensive energy legislation that included energy efficiency as a major component. The bill included provisions setting an energy code for commercial and state-owned buildings. West Virginia's score improved due to the state adopting stronger building codes. The other three most improved states in 2013 were Maine, Kansas and Ohio.

"Cutting down on energy waste has become an integral strategy for securing Mississippi's energy future, and we are proud to become the most improved state in this year's State Scorecard,” said Mississippi Public Service Commissioner and Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Brandon Presley. “Investing in energy efficiency helps utilities meet growing energy demand, provides reliable service for our customers, and produces economic benefits like energy cost savings.”

"Energy efficiency is a critical tool for cutting harmful carbon emissions and the best way to reduce energy bills for America's families,” said Secretary Moniz. “We applaud the continued progress in energy efficiency nationwide and stand ready to help states as they make their communities cleaner and more sustainable, while saving taxpayer dollars and fostering greater economic growth."

Several DOE officials and other experts will take part Nov. 20 in the Alliance to Save Energy’s Great Energy Efficiency Day in the nation’s capital.

The Policy Carrot

"From Massachusetts, which continues to be the pacesetter in the race to cut down energy waste, to Mississippi, which is emerging as a regional star, state governments are proving that smart policy can still cross partisan divides," said ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel.

“California continues earning its reputation as an energy leader by instituting the nation's most advanced energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and for pushing the envelope on ratepayer-funded efficiency programs,” said California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister. “Our standards alone have helped save ratepayers more than $75 billion since 1975, grown California's economy with local jobs, and protected our climate by reducing carbon emissions. ACEEE is providing a valuable service by recognizing energy efficiency leaders that other states can follow. We are proud to be one of the leaders."

Among other findings highlighted by the ACEEE:

  • Arkansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania continue to reap the benefits of their energy efficiency resource standards (EERS), leading to substantially greater electricity efficiency investments and savings compared to what ACEEE reported last year.
  • A total of 20 states fell in the rankings in the 2013 State Scorecard report, due to both changes in the report's methodology and substantive changes in their performance. “Idaho fell the furthest, by nine spots, largely because it did not keep up with peer states in utility efficiency spending and savings. Wisconsin dropped six spots, due to a significant drop in energy savings realized by the state's efficiency program.”
  • Connecticut passed a major energy bill in June 2013, calling for the benchmarking of state buildings, expanding combined heat and power programs, and doubling funding for energy efficiency programs.
  • The leading states in utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies (which account for 40 percent of the total score) are Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island. “All three of these states have long records of success and continue to raise the bar on the delivery of cost-effective energy efficiency programs and policies,” said the ACEEE.
  • The leading states in building energy codes and compliance are California, Washington, and Rhode Island. During the past year, seven states adopted the latest iteration of building energy codes.

The scorecard for the most part does not cover initiatives at the local or federal levels or by the private sector, though the ACEEE issued in September its separate City Energy Efficiency Scorecard (see map below). Boston took top honors, doing the most to save energy. Other top-scoring cities include Portland, Ore., New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin. The next tier of top-scoring cities (Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver) have also developed efficiency initiatives and are poised to rise in the rankings in future years.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our progress in creating a greener, healthier city,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Boston is a world-class city, and we know that our economic prosperity is tied to its ‘greenovation,’ which has helped create jobs and improve our bottom-line. Reducing our energy use is just one smart step in improving the quality of life in Boston and around the world.”

Separate work on energy efficiency policy by the National Governors Association resulted in "An Energy Efficiency Primer for Governors," issued in September.

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