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Vermont ranks in top five for energy efficiency

October 6, 2017

Vermont Business Magazine

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a national non-profit that advances policies and programs for energy efficiency, has, for the fourth year in a row, ranked Vermont among the top five in the nation (this year number 4) for advancement and support of energy efficiency.

Massachusetts was first and the coal- and oil-heavy central plain states were worst. This announcement was made as part of ACEEE’s 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which gave Vermont a fourth-place ranking, and as Vermont Governor Phil Scott proclaimed October 5 as ‘Energy Efficiency Day.’
The ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard provides states with a detailed comparison of how their efficiency efforts measure up. The scorecard offers recommendations for how each state can improve its rank, encouraging progress toward a more efficient future. In Vermont, the Report sites opportunities to deepen savings across other energy sectors: transportation and thermal efficiency.
ACEEE cites the three energy efficiency utilities—Vermont Gas Systems, Burlington Electric Department, and Efficiency Vermont—as a primary reason for Vermont’s leadership in this area.
“Vermont is unique. Compared to other states that have a fragmented approach to efficiency, our statewide and coordinated efforts provide equity, fairness and transparency—ensuring that every Vermonter has access to affordable products and services to lower their energy use,” said Karen Glitman, Director of Efficiency Vermont.
“At Vermont Gas, our teams work hard every day to help Vermont families and businesses reduce their energy needs and save money,” said Tom Murray, Vice President of Customers and Communities. “History has shown that our efficiency programs produce results for our customers. On average, 1,500 customers who participate in our programs help eliminate almost 4,500 tons of carbon dioxide each year just by reducing their energy usage. That’s enough energy to heat over 400 homes for one year.”
“Energy efficiency is Vermont’s least expensive future energy supply resource and, every day, becomes a greater environmental imperative,” said Chris Burns, Burlington Electric Department Director of Energy Services. “The Burlington Electric Department belongs to all members of the Burlington community, and our engaged and thoughtful community has been unequivocal in stating its preference for the pursuit of cost-effective energy efficiency above all other energy sources.”
Governor Scott’s ‘Energy Efficiency Day’ proclamation: governor.vermont.gov/content/energy-efficiency-day-proclamation-17-117(link is external)
This 11th annual report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), released today, shows which states are doing the best on energy efficiency — a critical tool for withstanding and recovering from storms and economic shocks. To download the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard online, go to http://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard(link is external).
Idaho, Florida, and Virginia are the three most-improved states in the newly released report. Massachusetts broke its 2016 tie with California by holding on to the No. 1 ranking, while the Golden State slipped to No. 2. As national leaders, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Oregon round out the top five in the ACEEE Scorecard. Idaho posted the most gains by far in 2017, surging past a number of mid-ranked states in ACEEE’s comparative index of efficiency policies, best practices, and other metrics. Idaho advanced seven spots, from 33rd to 26th place. The balance of the 10 most-improved states are Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, Utah, Nevada, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and Kentucky. While they show promise, all states can improve. 
Storm-hit Florida and Texas rose in the rankings. Florida is among the top 10 most-improved states for energy efficiency. In late 2016 the state began its new Farm Renewable and Efficiency Demonstration (FRED) Program, which provides free energy evaluations to farmers and grant reimbursements for proposed efficiency measures. In addition, Florida is preparing to implement a stronger state building code with a major emphasis on energy efficiency. Both Florida (jumping three spots on the Scorecard to rank #22) and Texas (improving to #26) can continue to place greater emphasis on energy efficiency policy and implementation as they rebuild in the wake of the recent hurricanes. 
“States hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will need to rebuild, and energy efficiency can help them do so smartly, including improved building codes and promotion of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems,” said Steven Nadel, executive director, ACEEE. “By pursuing energy efficiency policies, states can save residents and businesses billions in the long term. There is a lot of overall movement in the 2017 Scorecard. Some states that have gone for years without much change have made incredible strides.”
OTHER KEY FINDINGS

  • California, Massachusetts, and New York continue to lead the way in energy-efficient transportation policies for the second consecutive year. California’s requirements for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have prompted several strategies for smart growth. Massachusetts promoted smart growth development in cities and municipalities through state-delivered financial incentives. New York, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont are among the few states in the nation to have a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reduction target.
  • No. 3 Rhode Island achieved a perfect 20-out-of-20 score in the utility programs category for the fourth year in a row, thanks again to its ambitious Three-Year Energy Efficiency Procurement Plan, which has helped to drive electric utility savings to levels approaching 3%, among the highest in the country. In December 2016, the Governor’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) issued the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan to help cut emissions 45% by 2035 under the Resilient Rhode Island Act.
  • Vermont and Oregon ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, both posting increases to their nation-leading levels of electricity savings and showing strong performances across nearly every policy area. In the top 10 again this year were ConnecticutNew York, WashingtonMinnesota,and Maryland. Each of these states has well-established efficiency programs and continues to push the boundaries by redefining the ways in which policies and regulations can enable energy savings.
  • Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont were the leading states in utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies. These three states also topped this category in 2014, 2015, and 2016. With records of success, all three continued to raise the bar on cost-effective programs and policies.
  • California continued to lead in efficient buildings policies, with its latest building energy code updates taking effect in January 2017 and moving the state closer to its goal of achieving net zero energy use for all new residential buildings by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030. Other leaders include the District of Columbia, New York, and Washington, all of which have adopted the latest model codes and enforce mandatory building energy benchmarking and transparency policies for the commercial or residential building sector.
  • Multiple states in the lower tiers also showed progress. Louisiana moved up three spots to 44th, with savings continuing to increase as its utilities transition from the three-year “quick start” phase of their energy efficiency programs to the more comprehensive second phase. Mississippi, which also kicked off quick-start programs in 2014, held proceedings to guide the evolution to full-scale portfolios this year as well.
METHODOLOGY
The 2017 Scorecard assesses state policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, industries, and transportation systems. It examines the six policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and public benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes and compliance; Combined Heat and Power policies; state government-led energy efficiency initiatives; and appliance and equipment standards.
An update to the Scorecard report methodology in 2017 gives new consideration to state policies designed to improve energy efficiency programs that serve low-income customers. This new scoring metric arises from ACEEE research that shows low-income US households spend three times as much on their household energy bills as a percentage of their income as other households.
Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and is regulated by the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com(link is external)
Burlington Electric Department has been serving its customers with safe and reliable power since 1905. Burlington Electric is a recognized national leader in green energy with the recent milestone achievement of sourcing 100 percent of its power from renewable generation.. With a focus on low and stable rates and a commitment to energy efficiency, Burlington Electric’s 20,000 customers use less power today than they did in 1989. For more information about Burlington Electric, visit www.burlingtonelectric.com(link is external).
Vermont Gas Systems is a leader in energy efficiency and innovation, offering a clean, safe, affordable choice for over 50,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in Franklin, Chittenden and Addison counties. The company plays an important role in Vermont’s clean energy future by displacing higher-emitting fuels and with its award-winning energy efficiency programs. For more information about Vermont Gas visit www.VermontGas.com(link is external).
Source: ACEEE. Governor. BED 10.5.2017



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