Yesterday, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a new report entitled, "Opportunity Knocks: Examining Low-Ranking States in Energy Efficiency." The bottom line of the study is as follows:
After interviewing fifty-five stakeholders, we found a number of barriers both common and unique to the states we examined. Fortunately, energy efficiency does have a foothold in every region of the country, and the policies and programs we recommend are grounded in past experience and success in states similar to those we examined for this report. The recommendations vary in scope and targeted sector, but we focused on low-cost, flexible solutions that made sense given the context of most states we analyzed. We conclude that low-ranking states in the Scorecard should seize the opportunity to tap into an abundant, yet under-utilized resource in energy efficiency, which can contribute to economic development, environmental well-being, and energy security.
In other words, there's tremendous low-hanging fruit with energy efficiency in states that are currently wasteful and/or inefficient in their energy use patterns. What's holding these states (Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming) back from taking advantage of this opportunity? According to the ACEEE report, there are several main ones: 1) "a lack of awareness of energy efficiency and its numerous benefits in the public and private sectors;" 2) skepticism among utilities and their regulators regarding "how cost-beneficial energy efficiency programs would be for utilities and their customers;" and 3) an "overriding aversion to mandates and requirements also feeds the skepticism of policies advancing energy efficiency."
How can these states move beyond the obstacles and take advantage of the tremendous opportunity afforded by energy efficiency gains? ACEEE lists a series of recommendations, including empowering customers with information, providing tax incentives to encourage energy efficiency, and adopting the latest national model building codes. To read the full study, click here (registration required).