By Matt Grimley
Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy releases rankings on individual state’s energy efficiency performance. And every year, Appalachia is middling at best in saving energy.
The ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard examines everything from building codes to utility programs and policies to determine who takes the top spot. 2012’s top three states were Massachusetts, California and New York; the bottom three were West Virginia, North Dakota and Mississippi. Below we indicate our regional rankings based on the ACEEE 2012 report, followed by the increase or decrease in ranking from the 2011.
Good news, locally: since 2011, the states in Central and Southern Appalachia improved by an average of 0.875 spots. Better news: there’s always next year!
#33 (+3) — In 2012, Georgia ranked second in the nation in annual growth of electricity consumption. To help combat that, the state utilities must file an integrated resource plan every three years that accounts for, but does not require, efficiency measures. The state also does not require its utilities to meet annual energy savings targets. In other news, last year the Georgia Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant. Peachy!
#36 (+1) — With Gov. Steve Beshear’s seven-point strategic energy plan, Kentucky is calling for improving the efficiency of its homes, buildings, industries and transportation fleet to offset at least 18 percent of the state’s projected 2025 energy demand. Maybe the state could look at the nonprofit organization MACED and their How$Mart Kentucky program to see how on-bill financing (which helps residents pay for retrofits and save money on their electric bills) might expand?
Tied for #22 (+5) — The state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard has saved an estimated $577 million for the government and electric utilities since 2007. Recent state legislation was introduced seeking to repeal these standards. North Carolina has been a leader in the Southeast in efficiency — would N.C. Rep. Mike Hager, a former Duke Energy employee championing the bill, really want to undo that legacy?
Tied for #22 (+2) — The Buckeye State passed a strong standard back in 2008 for its utilities to meet energy savings targets. Recently, an Ohio Senate panel began its five-year checkup of those rules. State Sen. Bill Seitz, who is leading the review and supported the standard in 2008, said the policy reminded him of “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.” At least we know which way he’s “Lenin.”
#40 (+6) — Duke Energy Carolinas wants to increase their electric rates for residential customers by 16.3 percent in South Carolina, in part to help pay for two new power plants, in part to not promote more energy savings programs. Luckily, in January, a law became effective in the state that requires builders of all new homes to adopt more efficient measures such as getting a third party to conduct air duct tests on the new abode. It’s a start for this warm-weather state, which suffers from massive energy demand peaks.
#32 (-2) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is meeting its annual energy savings goals, but budgets for the efficiency programs are lower than anticipated. In March, Pathway Lending announced that it lowered the interest rate of the Tennessee Energy Efficiency Loan Program to two percent. The program partners include the state of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Energy. It has provided nearly $10 million in funding to more than 50 Tennessee businesses since 2010 in an effort to help businesses reduce operating costs and spur economic growth.
#37 (-3) — ACEEE in a report found that aggressively pursuing all cost-effective efficiency measures today would supply 31 percent of Virginia’s energy needs in 2025. The state currently has a goal of a 10 percent reduction in energy use by 2022, and if they choose to, utilities can voluntarily, maybe, help out. Dominion Virginia Power, thank everything, chose to help with their very own efficiency Blogspot: e-conserve.blogspot.com. It updates every two weeks, so get ready.
#49 (-5) — West Virginia’s residential electric rates have risen more than 50 percent in the past five years. FirstEnergy Corp. isn’t helping. The utility wants to sell the Harrison Power Station to a West Virginia subsidiary, and Mountain State customers would fund the purchase through increased electric bills. The state legislature, however, will soon look at House Bill 2803 to encourage greater investment in energy savings and House Bill 2210 to set definite demands for energy demand reduction by state electric utilities. At least that close there’s a lot to gain.