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California, Massachusetts Top Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Maine also moves into the top five on the annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, owing successes to new standards governing appliances, buildings and more.

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A comprehensive set of policies and other directions in California have cemented the state as the leader in energy efficiency efforts.

The finding is part of the recently released 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

“This inspires us to work harder and do more,” said California Public Utilities Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma, in some of her comments Tuesday during a webinar hosted by the group. California has a carbon neutrality goal set for 2045.

Maine was recognized as the most improved state, climbing 11 places in the last year. The state adopted appliance standards and increased its focus on low-income energy efficiency programs and weatherization, incentivizing energy efficient fuel switching and requiring new affordable housing to be all-electric.

The annual ACEEE state scorecard is in its 15th year, and examines energy efficiency across a range of more than 40 different scoring metrics covering utilities, transportation, buildings, industry and appliances.

“It has always been intended as a means to document state efforts to advance energy efficiency across multiple end-use sectors,” said Sagarika Subramanian, senior research analyst at ACEEE and the lead author of the 2022 scorecard, in some of her comments Tuesday.

This year’s scorecard is structured “to provide greater focus on major themes we thought were missing from past reports,” said Subramanian, calling attention to this year’s more concerted expansion of metrics to focus on equity. These can be state policies to promote equitable access, and benefits from clean energy and efficiency investments.

Transitioning the energy sector to renewable sources like solar and wind are widely seen as essential steps to combat the growing climate crisis. Improving energy efficiency helps to both reduce the daily costs to everyday consumers, experts say, as well as a way to grow resiliency against increasingly volatile energy markets.

“The importance of energy efficiency could not be more clear to me today, given the global events that are driving volatility in the energy markets,” said Dan Burgess, director of the Maine Governor’s Energy Office, in some of his comments on the panel, adding, energy efficiency “is a vital tool available to states, and to make improvements.”

Chief among global events moving energy markets is the devastating war in Ukraine, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) said is precipitating a move toward renewables more quickly than expected.

In fact, renewables are set to make up 90 percent of electric generation in the next five years, overtaking coal, firmly establishing it as a fossil fuel dinosaur.

“Renewables were already expanding quickly, but the global energy crisis has kicked them into an extraordinary new phase of even faster growth as countries seek to capitalize on their energy security benefits. The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next 5 years as it did in the previous 20 years,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, in a statement.

In Maine, the state is on course to double its weatherization pace by 2025, and have 35,000 homes weatherized by 2030. About 25 percent of these projects have been targeted at low-income homes.

“We are on our way to achieving those,” said Burgess.

Maine, a state of 550,000 households, also has a goal of having 100,000 new heat pumps installed by 2025. Already, 80,000 new heat pumps have been installed. And new public housing buildings are now wired for both electric vehicles and solar panels. The homes are also built as all-electric.

Top Five States Scoring Highest on the 2022 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Scorecard.

1. California
2. Massachusetts
3. New York
4. Vermont
5. Maine

Lowest Ranking States on the 2022 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Scorecard.

51. Wyoming
49. Kansas
49. South Carolina
46. South Dakota
46. Louisiana

Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.


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