The 2014 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard: A Zondits Synopsis
Each year the ACEEE ranks each of the states and the District of Columbia based on their energy efficiency policies and actions. The yearly rankings are a great way to see how efficiency is progressing (or stalling) across the United States. The scorecard’s authors use a rubric that includes six policy areas: utility and public benefits programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power (CHP) policies, state energy efficiency initiatives, and appliance and equipment standards. Points were allocated to each category based on the savings potential of the policy area.
The scorecard serves as a great benchmark for each state to measure its progress—or just give itself a well-deserved pat on the back. For the fourth consecutive year, Massachusetts has taken the top spot. The state is actively enabling energy efficiency programs through its legislature. The Green Communities Act of 2008 has played a large role, since it requires utilities to invest in energy efficiency as a resource and to increase renewable resources. The act also provides technical and financial assistance to towns for increasing energy efficiency within their jurisdictions. Following Massachusetts are California, Rhode Island, Oregon, and Vermont. These five states are joined by Connecticut, New York, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota in the top ten. Of the top ten states on the scorecard, six are participants in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The most-improved states include Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
Not surprisingly, Indiana dropped 13 points in the scorecard from last year due to the state’s elimination of its energy efficiency programs. Ohio also dropped by 7 points compared to last year as the state voted to freeze renewable and efficiency standards. Rounding out this category is New Jersey, which also dropped by 7 points compared to last year’s standings; the state has been conspicuously absent from RGGI since 2011.
The scorecard also outlines some key strategies for creating a winning environment for energy efficiency. Having state-level policies that require efficiency and renewable standards and goals enables stakeholders including utilities, vendors, consultants, and end users to engage in efficient practices. These policies are the basis for programs and initiatives that result in energy savings as well as economic benefits. The scorecard report also calls out building codes as a key catalyst for energy efficiency. Passing and enforcing more-stringent energy codes will result in energy savings for new buildings; however, enforcement and compliance are essential for realizing these savings, and training for building code inspectors and construction professionals is a key element.
Transportation efficiency is also part of the equation. States such as California have issued strict tailpipe emissions standards, and other states, such as New York, have goals for reducing vehicle miles traveled. Another strategy is to elevate CHP as an important distributed energy resource.