Canadian economy faces energy efficiency challenge from US states

Several major US industrial states are leaders in energy efficiency, according to a US study released last week.

An in-depth study published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy shows that the top 10 energy efficiency states are Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota. Interestingly, this group includes some of the top manufacturing states and states that are arguably among the top competitors for Canada’s manufacturing economy.  Energy efficiency means that total energy costs for manufacturers and other users are reduced no matter the actual cost of power consumed.

The ACEEE study also contains some interesting conclusions that may be relevant to Canadian jurisdictions contemplating, or not contemplating, energy efficiency initiatives:

  • Massachusetts retained the top spot in the State Scorecard rankings for the second year in a row, having overtaken California last year, based largely on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. Among other things, the Act spurred greater investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures.
  • Annual savings from all customer-funded energy efficiency programs topped 18 million megawatt-hours in 2010, a 40 percent increase over a year earlier.
  • Utility budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency programs rose to almost $7 billion in 2011, a 27 percent increase over a year earlier. Of this, $5.9 billion went to electric efficiency programs, with the remaining $1.1 billion for natural gas programs.
  • Nearly half of the states (24) have adopted and adequately funded an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets include Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Ten states have adopted energy efficiency codes for new building construction that exceed the IECC 2009 orASHRAE 90.1-2007 codes for residential and commercial building construction. Two additional states, Maryland and Illinois, have advanced even further by adopting the most recent and most stringent code for residential construction, the 2012 IECC.

The ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard is available at http://aceee.org/sector/state-policy/scorecard

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