Energy Efficiency Gaining Ground in Inefficient States, ACEEE Says

by | May 17, 2012

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Energy efficiency is gaining momentum in states that have traditionally been behind the curve in pushing such technology, according to research by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy.

But states that have usually ranked lowest on the ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard must still address numerous barriers to energy efficiency, according to the new report, Opportunity Knocks: Examining Low-Ranking States in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

The report draws on a series of interviews with stakeholders in states ranked in the bottom ten of the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Despite their low rankings in the scorecard, each of the states examined in the report has improved its energy efficiency in some way, ACEEE says. For example, last week, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law legislation that directs all state agencies and higher education institutions to achieve at least 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

Alabama and South Carolina recently passed statewide building codes to ensure new homes and buildings are built to save energy from the start. A number of states, notably Kansas, have solid programs in place to plan and finance energy efficiency improvements in state government facilities, according to the report.

Despite progress, numerous barriers are holding up progress on energy efficiency. The most notable barrier is the perception that energy efficiency costs more than it is worth. ACEEE says that the benefits of energy efficiency improvements substantially outweigh their costs in the long run.

The report finds that a number of actions can advance energy efficiency and do not require major government spending or regulatory action. ACEEE advocates strategies akin to that seen in Oklahoma, where states can lead by example by mandating efficiency in government facilities. States can also adopt and enforce building energy codes or implement utility-sector energy efficiency programs where such programs cost less than building new power plants, the organization says.

An ACEEE report released in April claimed that states and utilities were leading the way in industrial efficiency projects. In 2010 states and utilities invested over $811 million in direct industrial energy efficiency programs, far exceeding spending by the federal government and other national-level programs, according to Money Well Spent: Industrial Energy Efficiency Program Spending in 2010.

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