Scorecard provides benchmark of state energy policy, progress

Scorecard provides benchmark of state energy policy, progress

Illustration courtesy of USGBC

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with Massachusetts topping the ranking.

California, which shared the title with Massachusetts last year, came in at No. 2. Idaho, Florida and Virginia were listed as the most improved states in 2017.

ACEEE developed the scorecards to "give state-level policymakers a road map for building stronger and more resilient communities," officials said. The scorecards provide a benchmark of state energy policy and progress, using a 50-point scale across six categories, with 30 total submetrics, helping one drill down into areas where a state can benefit from improvements, as well as highlighting areas in which a state is a top performer.

Recently, ACEEE hosted a webinar to share the 2017 scorecard, and provided highlights by region:

  • The Midwest has most variability in their rankings, with Minnesota (9), Illinois (11) and Michigan (11) at the top. Meanwhile, Kansas (48), South Dakota (49) and North Dakota (51) are at the bottom—not just in the region, but in the country, with three of the four lowest rankings.
  • The Northeast has long showed a strong commitment to energy efficiency. It has all the states ranked in the top half of the U.S., and half of those in the top 10. This region is great at setting and achieving long-term targets. ACEEE highlighted New Hampshire (21) as a state to watch.
  • The Southeast is led by Florida (22), which received a "most improved" acknowledgement, but most of the region falls in the bottom half of the rankings. Virginia (29) is also a "most improved" state, attributable to improvements in energy codes and the governor’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The Central/Southwest showed a strong performance from Colorado (15), Arizona (17) and Utah (17). A common theme from the region is that home rule states have inconsistent code enforcement, creating an opportunity for improvement. Nevada (34) did get some wins this year with new energy targets.
  • California and the Northwest includes the high performers of California (2), Oregon (5) and Washington (7). Idaho (26) is in the middle of the rankings, but did receive a "most improved" acknowledgement, and the state’s utility efficiency savings continue to advance.

Next year, there will be a change in the energy codes category. Residential and commercial codes are scored for stringency and compliance. But with many states adopting amendments, either to strengthen or weaken their codes, it’s often difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison. In 2018, ACEEE will implement a performance index to look beyond just the code enacted.

Weston Berg, a research analyst at ACEEE, shared some "Strategies for Improving Efficiency" that can help all states:

  • Put into place, and adequately fund, an energy efficiency resource standard or similar energy savings target.
  • Adopt policies to encourage and strengthen utility programs designed for low-income customers, and work with utilities and regulators to recognize the nonenergy benefits of such programs.
  • Adopt more stringent building energy codes, improve code compliance and enable the involvement of efficiency program administrators in code support.
  • Adopt stringent tailpipe emissions standards for cars and trucks, and set quantitative targets for reducing vehicle miles traveled.  
  • Treat combined heat and power (CHP) as an energy-efficiency resource equivalent to other forms of energy efficiency.
  • Expand state-led efforts and make them visible.
  • Explore and promote innovative financing mechanisms to leverage private capital and lower up-front costs of energy efficiency measures.

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