Idaho Falls Behind In Energy Efficiency, As Ore., Wash. Maintain Top Tier

Nov 8, 2013

Idaho has the distinction of dropping the farthest in ranking in the 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Lead author on the report Annie Downs attributed Idaho’s decline to “not keeping up with peers in utility spending and savings.”

This year's State Scorecard is the seventh, published annually by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Rankings are based on scoring in six energy efficiency policy areas:

Idaho fell nine places from 2012 to tie at 31st. Maintaining their rankings, Oregon is fourth and Washington eighth.

Oregon has been in the top five every year and Washington has been in the top 10 each year, but has never broken into the top five. ACEEE authors note that as other states improve, both states need to keep pushing for high levels of energy savings in order to maintain their standings.

Similar to ACEEE’s City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which I blogged about in September, the authors write, “although we provide individual state scores and rankings, the differences between states are most instructive in tiers of ten.” This is because the range of scores within each tier is generally small, except for the top tier, which I’ll get into more below.

Aside from the Northwest rankings, two things stood out to me.

Methodology changes

Rather than keep the methodology exactly the same and wholly comparable each year, the research team “tightens up the criteria,” said ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel. The idea is to keep up with the changing policy and economic landscape. As stated in the report:

”We do not envision that the allocation of points both across and within sectors will forever remain the same. We continue to adjust our methodology to reflect the current energy efficiency landscape. As new studies of the potential of energy efficiency potential measures emerge, and new policy designs are implemented, we will consider changing the allocation of points, adding or subtracting new metrics, or even eliminating entire categories of scoring, all with the goal of best representing states’ evolving efforts to capture the potential for energy efficiency in the systems and sectors of their economies.”

For example, in the criteria for 'Utility and Public Benefits Programs and Policies,' the researchers "found that the median budget for both electricity and natural gas efficiency programs had risen significantly this year, and we updated our allocation of points to reflect this increase in spending."

Massachusetts is leading the charge

In the top tier, Massachusetts ranked number one for the third year in a row, with California close behind. The next six states have just one point separating them.

The report reveals that Massachusetts reigned by focusing on utilities policies, the most weighted criteria with 20 points possible out of 50. (This is one of the methodology changes I pointed out above.) Massachusetts scored 19 out of 20 for utilities policies, compared to Oregon at 14.5, Washington at 13 and Idaho at 5.5.

ACEEE summarizes how Massachusetts did it:

Massachusetts retained the top spot in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard rankings for the third year in a row, having overtaken California in 2011, based on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. The legislation laid the foundation for greater investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring gas and electric utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through energy efficiency. In late 2012, Massachusetts finalized its three - year plan, setting annual electricity savings targets of 2.5–2.6 percent through 2015 and natural gas targets of 1.08–1.19 percent per year through 2015. These are some of the most ambitious savings targets in the country, helping Massachusetts to earn the highest score in the utilities section of this year’s State Scorecard.

These are just a few of the big takeaways. To nerd out on all the Scorecard data download the full report here (registration required).

-- Toni Tabora-Roberts

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