Efficiency alone could cut U.S. electricity use by 30 percent

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Snowmass, CO, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — February 20, 2009 – If the energy efficiency across the United States was equivalent to that of the top performing states, the nation could save 1.2 million GWh, equivalent to 30 percent of its annual electricity use, according to a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

The report finds that there is a huge gap in electric productivity and the implementation of energy efficiency between the top performing states and the rest of the nation, sufficient to provide a 34 percent reduction in projected electricity demand while maintaining 2.5 percent annual economic growth, by 2020.

Electric productivity is measured as the dollars of gross domestic product (GDP) generated for each kilowatthour consumed.

The top five performing states, according to the report, are in order New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware and California, all with an electric productivity greater than 6.2. The five worst performing states, with an electric productivity less than 2.3, are South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi.

The report says there are numerous factors that can impact on the electric productivity and it focuses on the impacts of the climate and the commercial/industrial economic composition as the two main factors outside near term state control.

However, even after correcting for these factors, there is a real gap in state electric productivity, the report finds, and it suggests that increasing state electric productivity through energy efficiency is probably the largest near term opportunity to reduce both electricity use and greenhouse gases.

“RMI believes that the U.S. can close the electric productivity gap in ten years because the technology and policy solutions are already known, available and tested,” the report continues, adding that closing the gap will require a large and concerted effort from states, which must immediately begin installing all cost-effective efficiency measures to ensure that they achieve the electric productivity of today’s top performing states.

The study, “Assessing the Electric Productivity Gap and the U.S. Efficiency Opportunity,” was by Natalie Mims, Mathias Bell and Stephen Doig of RMI’s Energy and Resources team.