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.
|STATE ENERGY EFFICIENCY SCORECARD
|Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
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 2017 developments and trends, 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, equating to upward of 26.5 million megawatt-hours or enough to power about 2.5 million homes for an entire 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.
AMERICA’S Water Infrastructure Act
On behalf of members in cement, ready mixed and precast production, the North American Concrete Alliance (NACA) praised America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and was signed into law last month, following a 99-1 Senate vote. Passage of vital water infrastructure and resource programs every two years means Congress is ensuring America can build and maintain 21st century infrastructure, NACA contends, while supporting the 600,000 jobs across the cement and concrete industries.
“America’s water infrastructure, from waterways to drinking water systems, will remain strong thanks to Congress,” said Portland Cement Association CEO Michael Ireland. “Concrete is a central component in many of these projects, where resiliency and life-cycle cost are huge assets. PCA is grateful Congress adopted many of the provisions supported by the cement and concrete industry.”
“This is a major achievement for Congress, NACA and its members,” added American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association CEO Richard Mueller. “NACA has been working to educate lawmakers about America’s massive water infrastructure needs and the benefits of using cement and concrete to build for the long-term. Those messages clearly resonated and the result is one of the most important pieces of water infrastructure legislation in a quarter century.”
Among elements of the legislation most widely supported by the industry: Increasing infrastructure investment in waterway and flood control, including $6.1 billion for 12 new Army Corps of Engineers projects; reauthorizing construction programs like the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act; and, measures encouraging resilient and durable construction favoring concrete methods.
“We are pleased that WRDA reauthorization encourages resilient techniques by the Corps to ensure extreme weather mitigation and provide a return on investment,” notes Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute CEO Danielle Kleinhans.
The bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act is the most sweeping infrastructure package to be considered by this Congress, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, as it grows the economy, keeps communities safe, cuts red tape, and is fiscally responsible. The law ensures certainty for NSSGA producers and the equipment manufacturers who support them as they rely on the movement of aggregates through ports and inland waterways.