USA : State energy efficiency investments hit new high

energy efficiency, USAEnergy efficiency advocates in the US have at least one reason to be cheerful at the beginning of 2012. State energy efficiency investments reached record levels last year in the USA, according to a new report. The paper, published by the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE), claimed that ratepayer budgets for efficiency programs in the US climbed to a record $6.8 billion in 2011, a 25 percent jump on the previous year.

The report, made available this month and entitled a Summary of Ratepayer-funded Electrical Efficiency Impacts, Budgets and Expenditures, said the rise in investments was largely due to the growing number of energy efficiency standards in each states.

High case scenario in sights

Electric utilities represent the biggest providers of electrical efficiency in the US – 84 percent of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency budgets are provided by electric utilities. The institute said that given the current climate of steadily increasing efficiency standards, ratepayer-funded efficiency budgets are likely to exceed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s “high case” scenario projection of $12 billion by 2020.

IEE Executive Director Lisa Wood lauded the report’s findings: “This steady increase in electricity savings is really impressive. And the growth in electric utility expenditures for energy efficiency is the major reason behind it. Efficiency expenditures in 2010 totaled $4.8 billion, representing an increase of 28 percent over the prior year, and 6.8 billion in 2011.”

In 2011 the budgets in six states – Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia – more than doubled their budgets from the previous year. The report said that over the next decade “we can expect many new states to become leaders in energy efficiency.”

According to the report, in 2010 electrical efficiency programs in the US saved over 112 TWh of energy, the equivalent of powering 9.7 million US homes for a year. They also avoided the generation of 78 million metric tons of CO2. IEE projects that at least 125 TWh is to be saved for 2011.

Continued momentum

The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Energy Program co-director also heaped praise on the nation’s strides in improving its energy efficiency, as demonstrated by the report: “NRDC joins the Institute in celebrating this strong evidence of energy efficiency’s continued momentum as the nation’s fastest, cheapest and cleanest source of additional electricity supply” he said.

The IEE said the report is based on results garnered from 195 organizations (including 13 organizations that declined to release their data).

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