|Jun 20, 2011||USA Today|
|As Congress remains in gridlock, U.S. states are taking the lead in energy efficiency. New research shows 26 now have rules that are lowering utility bills for consumers and reducing the need to build new power plants.
From 2004 to 2010, 24 states followed the lead of Texas and Vermont in adopting an Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS), which require utilities to save a certain amount of power each year, according to the first progress report of states that have had such rules for at least two years. The policies require that the savings outweigh the costs.
"These states are demonstrating that energy efficiency programs deliver real savings for utilities and ratepayers, and it is more affordable than any supply-side energy source," said report author Michael Sciortino of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington-based research group.
The report says EERS policies are driving energy efficiency investments and energy cost savings to unprecedented levels. For example, in 2009 and 2010, it says Ohio utility customers saved $56 million in energy costs over and above the costs to deliver the programs.
"As a comprehensive national energy policy remains beyond the reach of Congress, states are taking action to show how bold energy efficiency policies can benefit residential, commercial, and industrial consumers," said Steven Nadel, the group's executive director, in a statement.
The report found that 13 of the 19 states are achieving 100% or more of their goals, three states are reaching more than 90%, and the three states falling below 80% are working hard to catch up. It espects more savings from state EERS, since most targets increase over the next decade.
Nadel's group also released a second report analyzing the efforts of six states with some of the largest and most successful energy efficiency programs in the United States: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Vermont. It also looks at the efforts of six other states with simpler but cost-effective efforts: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.