Achieving aggressive utility energy efficiency goals in the U.S.

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Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — April 20, 2009 – The top energy efficient states in the U.S. are California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Wisconsin and New York, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

However, that with the exception of Vermont, none of these are achieving the level of energy efficiency savings – 1.5 percent to 2 percent – that is being called for in recent policies established in several states.

The report, “Meeting aggressive new state goals for utility-sector energy efficiency: Examining key factors associated with high savings,” reminds that in the last few years energy efficiency has evolved from being largely a token gesture to being a top priority utility system resource. The drivers have included volatility in fuel prices, shrinking power reserve margins and mounting concerns about global change. As a result states have been rushing to establish aggressive new energy savings goals.

With this in mind the report was intended to identify through expert review and analysis the top performing states in terms of utility energy efficiency programs, but also to identify factors that have contributed to their performance and the factors that may enable significant increases in performance.

Among the findings for these top performing states were that energy efficiency spending was relatively balanced between the residential and non-residential sectors (44 percent and 56 percent respectively for 14 top states), but that savings were relatively skewed to the non-residential sector (63 percent). Also striking was the extent to which the lighting end use dominated the savings, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all savings in many of the states.

Key factors associated with high levels of utility energy efficiency achievements were identified as relatively high levels of funding for energy efficiency programs and strong legislative and regulatory requirements and support for energy efficiency.

In meeting future higher energy efficiency savings requirements key additional factors identified include appropriate incentives for utilities to pursue energy efficiency, having high quality energy efficiency programs, and appropriately recognizing the cost of carbon emissions.

There is also a need to increase savings in end-use activities other than lighting.