California, Massachusetts Top State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

California, Massachusetts Top State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Meters - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jrandom/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

The latest version of a scorecard that rates states on their energy efficiency policies and programs finds that many states are increasing and strengthening their energy efficiency efforts despite the recession.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released its 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the third edition of the annual ranking.

Taking the top ten spots are California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, New York, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Maine. The bottom ten spots are filled in by Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Alaska, West Virginia, Nebraska, Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota and, all the way at the bottom, Wyoming.

Within the middle ranks, some states made big moves up in the scorecard. Maine went from 19 to the 10th spot. Colorado moved up eight places, from 24 to 16. Delaware jumped from 32 to 20. The District of Columbia climbed 10 spots to number 20. South Dakota went from 47 to 36. And Tennessee moved from 46 to 38.

“This growing and deepening commitment to energy efficiency is so strong that the current recession has not put a dent in the vast majority of state programs," said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. "And that is for good reason: Energy efficiency is the only resource that can actually reduce energy consumption while growing the economy - making efficiency the 'first fuel' states can use to balance their energy portfolios.”

The scorecard rates states on utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state government initiatives and appliance efficiency standards.

Maine, for example, made energy efficiency a priority starting in 2003 and became the first state to buy all of its electricity from renewable resources. The state has also encouraged alternative modes of transportation and voluntary alternative work schedules for state employees.

Delaware has created new building codes to push energy efficiency forward, making it easier for residential and commercial sites to adopt solar and wind power. The state also created net-metering rates to encourage residents to be more energy efficient and sell extra power to the grid.

Residential energy efficiency is also getting a big push from the federal government with the Recovery Through Retrofit report (PDF) released this week. The report puts forth a number of recommendations that would lay the groundwork for a home energy efficiency retrofit industry, pointing out barriers like access to information, financing and skilled workers.

The 130 million homes in the U.S. generate more than 20 percent of the U.S.'s carbon dioxide emissions, and existing retrofit technologies and techniques can lower a home's energy use by 40 percent, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 160 million metric tons a year and reduce home energy bills by $21 billion a year, according to the report.

The report calls for providing homeowners with useful and easier-to-understand information on home energy retrofits, such as creating an Energy Star label for existing homes (there is already one for new homes) and establishing a standardized home energy performance measure that can be applied to any home.

To reduce costs associated with retrofits, the report suggests using property tax or municipal energy financing so that the cost of retrofits can be added to a property tax bill so that the cost of the retrofit is tied to the home, not an individual who might move and not reap the financial savings from the retrofit.

As for workers, the report call for setting up national workforce certification and training standards to assure homeowners that energy efficiency and retrofit workers are qualified.

Meters - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jrandom/ / CC BY-ND 2.0