AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT ECONOMY
The year 2015 marks a tipping point for energy efficiency. State policies are increasingly encouraging utilities to invest in cost-effective efficiency, prompting them to adopt new business models that align their interests with those of customers and policymakers. Utilities across the United States invested more than $7 billion in energy efficiency over the past year. States are also spurring energy efficiency investments through advancements in building energy codes, transportation planning, and leading by example in their own buildings. These investments in energy efficiency reap huge benefits, giving businesses, governments, and consumers more control over how and when they use energy. Efficiency saves money, drives investment across all sectors of the economy, creates jobs, and reduces the environmental impact of energy use. This summer’s release of the Clean Power Plan by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further motivates states to invest in costeffective energy efficiency as a compliance option.
Governors, legislators, regulators, and citizens are increasingly recognizing that energy efficiency is a crucially important state resource. As a result, many innovative policies and programs that promote energy efficiency originate at the state level. The 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard reflects these successes through a comprehensive analysis of state efforts to support energy efficiency.
In this ninth edition of our State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks states on their policy and program efforts and recommends ways that states can improve their energy efficiency performance in various policy areas. The State Scorecard provides an annual benchmark of the progress of state energy efficiency policies and programs. It encourages states to continue strengthening their efficiency commitments in order to promote economic growth, secure environmental benefits, and increase their communities’ resilience in the face of the uncertain cost and supply of the energy resources on which they depend.
The 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard assesses state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, industries, and transportation systems. It considers 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 (CHP) policies
- State government–led initiatives around energy efficiency
- Appliance and equipment standards
Figure ES1 shows states’ rankings in The 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, dividing them into five tiers for ease of comparison. Later in this section, table ES1 provides details of the scores for each state. An identical ranking for two or more states indicates a tie.
Massachusetts retained the top spot in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard rankings for the fifth year in a row, having overtaken California in 2011. The state’s achievement is based on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. Among other things, the legislation has spurred greater investment in energy efficiency programs by requiring utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures. Massachusetts achieved incremental electricity savings of over 2.4% of statewide retail sales in 2014.
Joining Massachusetts in the top five are California, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Oregon. All of these states have appeared in the top five in the past, demonstrating the continuing commitment and progress of the states in the top tier.
Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois rounded out the top tier. These states have well-established energy efficiency programs but also continue to push the boundaries by redefining the ways in which policies and regulations can enable energy efficiency.
States Rising and Falling
This year’s most improved states were Maryland, Illinois, the District of Columbia, California, and Texas. Most-improved states showed the largest increases in points over last year’s totals. Maryland has been a top-performing state for several years and in 2015 increased its commitment to energy efficiency by establishing new, more aggressive energy savings targets for utilities. Illinois is well along the path toward adoption of the most recent building energy codes, and procurement agreements with the Illinois Power Agency have allowed utilities to achieve energy savings beyond the constraints of a spending cap placed on programs run under the state’s energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). The District of Columbia is among the most improved for the second year in a row, due to its progress across a number of policy areas and the ramping up of DC Sustainable Energy Utility programs. California’s major efforts to achieve energy efficiency in schools, in addition to its implementation of a cap-and-trade program, earned the state several more points this year. Texas installed the most new CHP capacity of any state in 2014 and also prioritized building energy code compliance efforts through a partnership with the US Department of Energy.
Other states have also made recent progress in energy efficiency. Delaware actively convened stakeholder groups over the past year to develop energy savings targets for utilities and the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility. Pennsylvania established new energy efficiency targets for electric utilities for the next five years.
Sixteen states fell in the rankings this year, and 27 states and two territories lost points because of substantive changes in their performance as well as changes in our methodology. New Mexico fell the farthest, losing four points and falling six positions in the rankings. This drop is indicative of the need to consistently update and improve policy. Although New Mexico has energy savings targets in place, other states have ramped up energy savings in recent years and adopted more recent (and more stringent) versions of building energy codes.
About the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. We believe that the United States can harness the full potential of energy efficiency to achieve greater economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection for all its people.