State Efficiency Gap May Be Widening

Efficiency-tracker-pie-chartState legislatures are focusing on energy efficiency policy this session, but there could be a widening gap between leading states and laggards, research by the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University suggests.

The data comes from the center’s recently debuted Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker.

So far in the 2013 legislative session, policymakers in 35 states have proposed 130 bills promoting energy efficiency policy. Most of these states are ranked in the top half of the 2012 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) State Scorecard. This may be evidence of a larger trend, CNEE says: a growing disparity between states moving forward on energy efficiency legislation and those lagging behind. But leaders’ continuing promotion of efficiency also suggests that politicians increasingly recognize the effectiveness of these policies.

The largest single class of energy-efficiency legislation, with 51 bills, is “lead-by-example” proposals. These encourage state governments to reduce energy consumption in their own facilities and operations. The popularity of these bills is unsurprising, because this type of initiative is relatively straightforward and a low-hanging-fruit, CNEE says.

The next most popular categories are appliance standards (with 18 bills) and building codes (with 16). Fewer appliance-efficiency standards are likely to be introduced at the state level in the future, due to the standards set at the federal level in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. But building code revisions are likely to remain common, the center says.

The remaining five categories (see chart, above) constitute emerging trends in energy efficiency policy. Among the more innovative measures are data disclosure bills, designed to provide utility customers with more information about their energy use. Also emerging are revisions to utility demand side management (DSM) cost/benefit tests for determining the viability of energy efficiency programs.

Currently, 24 states have energy efficiency resource standards (EERS), and this session, 11 states have proposed expanding or diminishing existing standards. Meanwhile, Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia all considered – and later rejected – bills to establish EERSs.

The demand side management and energy saving contract bills proposed this session generally focus on improving the regulatory structure of state programs that implement efficiency policies.

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