While states had to shift focus this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, some still made gains toward their climate goals, according to a new report released on Wednesday.
The 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, an annual project from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, examines policies and programs adopted through July 2020 and scores states on 32 metrics in five areas: energy-saving targets, vehicle efficiency, building codes, appliance and equipment standards, and state government initiatives. The data is from state energy offices, state utility regulators and policy experts.
California, known for its stringent vehicle emissions standards and net-zero energy building codes, took the top spot in this year’s report. Northeastern states comprised the rest of the top five: Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and New York.
The report highlighted regional leaders and their efforts:
— Northeast leader Massachusetts’ is integrating and aligning efficiency rules with electrification and building decarbonization strategies.
— Minnesota, the top state in the Midwest, is making progress with utility-run programs that help consumers save energy and is drafting rules for a Clean Cars program that would utilize some of California’s vehicle standards.
— Southwest leader Colorado is working to meet statewide climate goals signed in 2019 that target a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
— Virginia, the top state in the South, set a 100% clean electricity goal and increased minimum funding levels for efficiency programs for veterans and low-income, elderly or disabled residents.
“In this pandemic and recession, policymakers can embrace efficiency efforts to help residents reduce their utility bills and to get more people back to work, all while cutting pollution,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director, in a release accompanying the report.
The most improved state, according to the scorecard, is No. 21 Nevada, which moved up five spots. The Silver State continues to bolster utility efficiency programs, has adopted light-bulb standards, tightened building energy codes and is working to boost its vehicle standards.
“I’m proud to see Nevada leading the way on energy efficiency–an important part of what we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a release. “I look forward to continuing our climate action progress in this arena and helping consumers save money on their energy bills.”
They aren’t the only ones where improvements can be made, however. While states such as California, New Jersey and Oregon are working to foster equity in efficiency programs and policies, the ACEEE report notes, there is much more that can be done to aid lower-income customers and improve equity in policies and programs.
“These efforts are perhaps more important now than ever as states and local communities wrestle with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been especially devastating for communities of color,” the scorecard says.
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Despite COVID-19, States Keep Working Toward Energy Efficiency originally appeared on usnews.com