With state leaders embracing efficiency’s economic and environmental benefits, utilities across the United States invested approximately $7.6 billion in energy efficiency and saved approximately 25.4 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2016. While these levels did not quite match 2015 savings, roughly half the states reported savings surpassing those they posted in 2015, and many adopted and implemented new policies in 2016. Some states are seeing utility efficiency programs taking root for the first time, while others at the leading edge are pioneering data-driven strategies to reach higher levels of savings. A series of state policy decisions at the turn of the year extended and strengthened utility energy efficiency efforts, and many states have seen advancements in building energy codes, transportation, state government financing, and lead-by-example policies.
The 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard highlights these recent developments and trends to call attention to the diverse policy tools available to governors, state legislators, and regulators. Energy efficiency is the nation’s third-largest electricity resource, and it has the potential to grow even larger with continued state innovation and leadership (ACEEE 2016). Efficiency has a number of clear benefits. It creates jobs, not only directly for manufacturers and service providers, but also indirectly in other sectors by saving energy and freeing up funds to support the local economy. Efficiency also reduces pollution, strengthens community and grid resilience, promotes equity, and improves health and comfort.
The 2017 Scorecard assesses state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries, and transportation systems. It examines the six policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency:
- Utility and public benefits programs and policies
- Transportation policies
- Building energy codes and compliance
- Combined heat and power (CHP) policies
- State government–led initiatives around energy efficiency
- Appliance and equipment standards
The State Scorecard provides an annual benchmark of the progress of state energy efficiency policies and encourages states to continue strengthening their commitment to efficiency, thereby promoting economic growth and environmental benefits. The Scorecard is divided into eight chapters. In Chapter 1, the authors discuss their methodology for scoring states (including changes made in 2017), present the overall results of their analysis, and provide several strategies states can use to improve their energy efficiency. Chapter 1 also highlights the leading states, most-improved states, and policy trends revealed by the rankings.
Subsequent chapters present detailed results for six major policy areas. Chapter 2 covers utility and public benefits programs and policies. Chapter 3 discusses transportation policies. Chapter 4 deals with building energy code adoption, state code compliance efforts, and building policies. Chapter 5 covers state scores on policies that encourage and enable combined heat and power (CHP) development. Chapter 6 deals with state government initiatives, including financial incentives, lead-by-example policies, and energy-efficiency– focused research and development (R&D). Chapter 7 discusses appliance and equipment efficiency standards. In Chapter 8 the authors offer closing thoughts on the report’s findings, expectations for what will emerge from states in the coming year, and potential changes to next year’s State Scorecard.