by Brianna Crandall — October 4, 2017 — The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has just released its 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard showing which states are doing the best on energy efficiency — a critical tool for withstanding and recovering from storms and economic shocks. As more states struggle with extreme weather events, this 11th annual report gives state-level policymakers a road map for building stronger and more-resilient communities, says ACEEE.
According to the newly released report, Massachusetts broke its 2016 tie with California by holding on to the #1 ranking, while the Golden State slipped to #2. As national leaders, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Oregon round out the top five in the ACEEE Scorecard.
Idaho, Florida, and Virginia are the three most-improved states; Idaho posted the most gains by far in 2017, surging past a number of mid-ranked states in ACEEE’s comparative index of efficiency policies, best practices, and other metrics. Idaho advanced seven spots, from 33rd to 26th place. The balance of the 10 most-improved states are Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada, Louisiana, Oregon, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky. While they show promise, all states can improve, says ACEEE.
Of note, storm-hit Florida and Texas rose in the rankings. Florida is among the top 10 most-improved states for energy efficiency. In late 2016 the state began its new Farm Renewable and Efficiency Demonstration (FRED) Program, which provides free energy evaluations to farmers and grant reimbursements for proposed efficiency measures. In addition, Florida is preparing to implement a stronger state building code with a major emphasis on energy efficiency. Both Florida (jumping three spots on the Scorecard to rank #22) and Texas (improving to #26) can continue to place greater emphasis on energy efficiency policy and implementation as they rebuild in the wake of the recent hurricanes.
Here are ACEEE’s Top 10 states for energy efficiency in 2017:
- Rhode Island
- New York
Steven Nadel, executive director, ACEEE, pointed out:
States hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will need to rebuild, and energy efficiency can help them do so smartly, including improved building codes and promotion of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems. By pursuing energy efficiency policies, states can save residents and businesses billions in the long term. There is a lot of overall movement in the 2017 Scorecard. Some states that have gone for years without much change have made incredible strides.
Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, remarked:
As Massachusetts continues to make historic investments and progress in clean energy development, energy efficiency remains the most cost-effective method of reducing ratepayer costs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Massachusetts is proud to lead the nation in energy efficiency policies and programs, and over the last year our administration has focused on increasing access for low- and moderate-income ratepayers, while investing in innovative peak demand reduction projects that will provide significant environmental and economic benefits to the Commonwealth.
Other key findings:
- California, Massachusetts, and New York continue to lead the way in energy-efficient transportation policies for the second consecutive year. California’s requirements for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have prompted several strategies for smart growth. Massachusetts promoted smart growth development in cities and municipalities through state-delivered financial incentives. New York, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont are among the few states in the nation to have a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction target.
- #3 Rhode Island achieved a perfect 20-out-of-20 score in the utility programs category for the fourth year in a row, thanks again to its ambitious Three-Year Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan, which has helped to drive electric utility savings to levels approaching 3%, among the highest in the country. In December 2016, the Governor’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) issued the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan to help cut emissions 45% by 2035 under the Resilient Rhode Island Act.
- Vermont and Oregon ranked #4 and #5, respectively, both posting increases to their nation-leading levels of electricity savings and showing strong performances across nearly every policy area. In the top 10 again this year were Connecticut, New York, Washington, Minnesota, and Maryland. Each of these states has well-established efficiency programs and continues to push the boundaries by redefining the ways in which policies and regulations can enable energy savings.
- Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont were the leading states in utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies. These three states also topped this category in 2014, 2015, and 2016. With records of success, all three continued to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies.
- California continued to lead in efficient buildings policies, with its latest building energy code updates taking effect in January 2017 and moving the state closer to its goal of achieving Net Zero Energy use for all new residential buildings by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. Other leaders include the District of Columbia, New York, and Washington, all of which have adopted the latest model codes and enforce mandatory building energy benchmarking and transparency policies for the commercial or residential building sector.
- Multiple states in the lower tiers also showed progress. Louisiana moved up three spots to 44th, with savings continuing to increase as its utilities transition from the three-year “quick start” phase of their energy efficiency programs to the more comprehensive second phase. Mississippi, which also kicked off quick-start programs in 2014, held proceedings to guide the evolution to full-scale portfolios this year as well.
The 2017 Scorecard assesses state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, industries, and transportation systems. It examines the six policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and public benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes and compliance; Combined Heat and Power policies; state government-led energy efficiency initiatives; and appliance and equipment standards.
An update to the Scorecard report methodology in 2017 gives new consideration to state policies designed to improve energy efficiency programs that serve low-income customers. This new scoring metric arises from ACEEE research that shows low-income U.S. households spend three times as much on their household energy bills as a percentage of their income as other households.
To download the 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with rankings in map and list form as well as details of each state’s successful energy efficiency programs and best practices, or to view a video announcement of the results, visit the ACEEE Web site.