Report: Pennsylvania ranks 18th in the country for energy efficiency | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Report: Pennsylvania ranks 18th in the country for energy efficiency

In a report published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Pennsylvania ranked 18th in the 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report that measures how states are progressing, or not progressing, in terms of energy efficiency policies.

“Pennsylvania has an energy efficiency resource standard in place, and saw utility electric savings increase somewhat in 2018, rising above the national median,” states the Pennsylvania Scorecard. “To deliver more energy savings to businesses and residents, Pennsylvania could remove the cost cap for efficiency measures and set more aggressive savings targets.”

The commonwealth gained the most points for its building energy efficiency policies, including updating residential and commercial building codes. It received the least points (zero points) for its appliance standards.

ACEEE uses six policy areas to determine each state's scorecard: utilities, transportation, building energy efficiency policies, combined heat and power, state government-led initiatives, and appliances standards. There are 33 metrics divided among the six policy areas that determine the total score for each state. Under transportation policies, for example, metrics include “transit funding” and “High-efficiency vehicle consumer incentives.” Under utilities, metrics include “incremental savings from electricity efficiency programs” and “Support of low-income energy efficiency programs.”
click to enlarge IMAGE: ACEEE
Image: ACEEE
Weston Berg, lead author of the Scorecard report, says that part of the reason they release the report every year is for states to track how they’re doing in terms of energy efficiency how they can improve, often by learning what policies other states are implementing.

The top three states with the best Energy Efficiency Scorecards are Massachusetts, California, and Rhode Island; West Virginia, North Dakota, and Wyoming take the bottom three spots.

The largest portion of metrics falls under the category of utilities because it’s an area with significant opportunities for states to become more efficient, from appliance rebate programs to implementing more efficient heating and cooling.

“The states that we’re seeing doing the best in that chapter are usually the ones that have an energy efficiency resource standard that sets actual mandatory multi-year targets for utilities,” says Berg. “Pennsylvania does actually have one, but the reported level of savings that [it receives is] kind of around the average.”

He also says that one way Pennsylvania could increase its efficiency is by implementing decoupling utility regulations, a policy that separates a utility’s profits from its sales (in other words, utility companies could encourage energy efficiency among their customers without worrying about losing money from selling fewer utilities). While Pennsylvania doesn’t currently implement utility decoupling, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill in 2018 opening up to the possibility for it in the future.

Berg also says that overall, this was a significant year for states “trying to step up and fill the void” of the federal government rolling back certain standards, like earlier in September when President Trump rolled back standards for energy-efficient light bulbs.

The complete rankings and reports can be found here.

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