Efficiency Alone Could Cut U.S. Electricity Use by 30 Percent: RMI Study

Efficiency Alone Could Cut U.S. Electricity Use by 30 Percent: RMI Study

An assessment of the "electric productivity" of the 50 states indicates that shoring up performance gaps through energy efficiency could not only cut consumption by 30 percent, but also eliminate the need for more than 60 percent of coal-fired generation, according to a new study by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The RMI study, "Assessing the Electric Productivity Gap and the U.S. Efficiency Opportunity," [PDF] determines the productivity rate of each state by measuring how much gross domestic product is generated for each kilowatt-hour consumed.

The results varied widely among the states. The five showing the highest electric productivity rates are New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware and California. The bottom five are Idaho, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and, in last place, Mississippi.

If states were brought up to the range of productivity rates attained by the top 10 performers, which the report contends could be achieved through energy efficiency alone, then more than 60 percent of the country's coal-fired generation could be avoided, the study says.

"Closing the electric productivity gap through energy efficiency is the largest near-term opportunity to immediately reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases, and move the United States forward as a leader in the new clean energy economy," Natalie Mims, a consultant on RMI's Energy and Resources Team, said in a statement.

RMI developed an interactive map with its study. To view the map and determine how your state is faring, click here.

Other findings of the study include:
• If the rest of the country achieved the normalized electric productivity of the top performing states, with 100 percent adoption the country would save a total of ~1.2 million gigawatt-hours annually.
• 1.2 million gigawatt-hours amounts to about 30 percent of the country's electricity use, or 62 percent of the nation's coal fired electrical power.
• In 2020, if the United States can on average achieve the electric productivity of the top performing states today, the country can anticipate a 34 percent reduction in projected electricity demandand maintain 2.5 percent annual economic growth.