Energy efficiency council ranks building and vehicle leaders, laggards

Sources: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

As the federal government loosens environmental rules, states are investing more in energy efficiency and delivering increased power savings. Based on 32 metrics in six areas, including building and vehicle performance, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 12th annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard cites leaders California and Massachusetts; laggards North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming; and, states with the highest year-over-year improvements, notably New Jersey. 

Quite a few states worked to retain or extend their standards and promote electric vehicles as well as zero-energy buildings last year, according to the 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. While Iowa and Connecticut saw legislative measures away from energy efficiency targets or mandates, ACEEE notes, other states unveiled plans to boost investments in facility, vehicle and appliance performance plus clean energy. Among developments and trends in 2017, the scorecard finds:

• New Jersey improved the most since the prior year, moving up five ranks to #18. The Garden State set new annual energy savings targets and took steps to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate cap and trade emissions compact. Missouri, Connecticut, Colorado and South Dakota showed marked improvement.

• Massachusetts continued to rank #1 overall. It launched a plan to set new three-year energy savings targets and approved utility spending for grid-scale modernization. A close second is California, followed by Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland. Iowa fell the most, moving down five spots to #24. A new state law imposes a restrictive cap on efficiency programs and allows customers to opt out of paying for some of them. Sixteen other states fell in the rankings.

• States increased investments in energy efficiency in the utility sector, spending nearly $8 billion versus $7.6 billion in 2016. The result was a 7.3 percent increase in electricity savings, upward of 26.5 million megawatt-hours and enough to power about 2.5 million homes per year.

• States ramped up efforts to promote zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) as the federal government sought to freeze related fuel economy standards. California joined with eight other states in rolling out an updated ZEV plan.

• More states pushed for zero-energy construction, largely through tougher building code requirements. California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have incorporated net zero-energy construction—typically resulting in buildings that produce as much or more energy than they consume—into long-range plans.