- The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on Thursday released its annual state ranking of efforts to cut their energy consumption, as efficiency spending rose to nearly $8 billion in 2017 from $7.6 billion in 2016.
- The 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard showed a 7.3% increase in electricity savings last year, representing almost 27.3 million MWh, with Massachusetts and California leading in the ranking.
- The scorecard also highlights the impacts state policy can have: New Jersey passed clean energy legislation this year, including new efficiency targets, and was the most improved state in the rankings. Iowa legislators allowed utilities to reduce their spending on efficiency, causing the state to fall furthest in ACEEE's rankings.
States are ramping up efforts to grow energy efficiency — the nation's third-largest electricity resource, according to ACEEE — with greater spending and a broad array of strategies.
An increasing number of states are considering zero-energy construction, or codes that would require buildings to produce as much power as they use. New homes and commercial buildings in California will need to be net zero-energy by 2020 and 2030, respectively. And ACEEE said Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts have all incorporated net zero-energy construction into long-range plans.
Massachusetts topped the rankings for the eighth year in a row, edging out California by a half point, similar to last year. The states shared the top spot in 2016. They were followed by Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut, to round out the top-five.
Rankings are determined using a 60-point scale. Massachusetts scored a 44 and the top four states were all above 40 points. Conversely, Wyoming, which does not have an energy efficiency resource standard and does not offer incentives, has the most room for improvement. At 4.5 points it was the only state to score under 5.
"All the states we're seeing in the top 10 are really states that have really robust. ambitious energy efficiency resource standards for their utility sector programs, since most of the savings that states see are from utility programs," Weston Berg, lead author, said in a video discussing the findings.
The report also highlights the range of solutions being considered. Many of the leaders, for instance, also have grid modernization or utility transformation initiatives in place. California and Vermont were highlighted for setting appliance standards, at a time when the federal government is pulling back on those requirements. And six states have set up green banks to allow for innovative financing solutions.