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Energy Efficiency Gaining Ground in Inefficient States, ACEEE Says

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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3 thoughts on “Energy Efficiency Gaining Ground in Inefficient States, ACEEE Says

  1. It’s great to see US states, especially ones that have historically ranked low in energy efficiency, making strides to pass sustainable, environmentally-friendly legislation, as well as increase energy efficient investments. Each state’s efforts, whether it’s through sustainable housing codes, standards for decreased energy use, or plans for improved state government facilities, including furniture refinishing, are all ways to increase the overall sustainability of our country. We hope that state governments and the federal government recognize the importance of energy efficient investments and initiatives and continue to develop programs and projects that benefit our environment.

  2. The key to saving money is not with a new furnace, but with insulation! I do think that we all need to improve our energy efficiencies by adding more to our living structures besides mechanical efficient furnaces and air conditioning units. Even with thermal conductive heat pumps, if the home is not insulated well, where does all the heat go? Up until the 1940s, most homes had one room, the kitchen, that was heated above the 50 degree Fahrenheit range, and that was because of cooking and water needs. All other areas in the home were cold and uninsulated. Adding more insulation is a great way to keep your costs down, and bring our conservation movement forward with energy efficiency.

  3. Today’s debate associated with advanced energy efficiency efforts focuses on money, who pays and who benefits. While those that sell energy want everyone to pretend that they are doing all they can to reduce costs and deserve exorbitant annually increasing profit margins for their shareholders and those that consume energy want everyone to pretend that are doing their part as best they can to reduce energy use. …and both sides know they are not telling the truth!

    While the current either/or situation makes for lively political debates on both sides, the real problems associated with America’s excessive energy consumption has little to do with energy efficiency programs/measures and everything to do with installed infrastructure. Most notably, the way our buildings, cities and transportations systems were designed, implemented and regulated in the first place and how the price structure (highest production/consumption = pays the least marginal cost) associated with energy has been historically imposed.

    While I know that republican free marketers and the democratic socialization community have created the perfect political stalemate to ensure endless war and that America’s excessive energy consumption problem is never solved; the real and potentially only solution is actually a political one. Where marginal energy prices are regulated upon generation and consumption; the more you produce and/or consume, the more that marginal energy unit has to cost.

    I’m sure that this is going to remind people of then Vice President Al Gore’s 1993 BTU Tax (which, at $10/bbl oil I was loath to consider at the time), yet only by incentivizing the elimination of excessive energy consumption, across all of the economy’s sectors, are we going to be able to solve our problem under a free market system. Given the opportunity to cut the largest consumers/products a price break is fundamental to the free market system and until we create a marketplace mechanism to counter this situation, discussions of effectiveness and the cost/benefit nature of energy efficiency programs is going to remain folly. For in a free market system that encourages excessive energy production and consumption, we’re always going to be able to identify ways to lower energy use, yet never have the resources or political will to implement their use.

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