California’s top-scoring efforts included adopting rules this year to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines starting in 2035 while making zero-emissions vehicles accessible to low-income and disadvantaged residents. The Golden State prioritizes equitable decarbonization of buildings by setting goals for heat pump deployment, with at least half of the heat pumps going to low-income and disadvantaged communities. The CalEnviroScreen 4.0 mapping tool identifies communities with disproportionate pollution levels, and those communities are prioritized for investments funded by California’s cap-and-trade program.
“California is proud to be recognized for our national energy leadership and is committed to continuing to advance the technologies of the future to make saving energy even easier,” said Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission. “Governor Gavin Newsom’s historic $54 billion budget commitment will help sustain the clean energy transition for years to come while showing that strong clean energy policy and economic prosperity go hand in hand. Placing energy efficiency at the center of the transition ensures that every Californian benefits from a cleaner and healthier environment for generations to come.”
This year, Massachusetts enacted a law to set energy-reporting requirements for large buildings, followed California’s lead on zero-emissions vehicles, and prioritizes investments in electric heat pumps and diversifying its energy workforce. In New York, a new law allows utilities to operate thermal energy networks as an alternative to fossil-fuel-based heating systems. New York is also investing $70 million for heat pumps in multifamily buildings. Vermont is the first state to begin phasing out mercury-containing fluorescent tube lights in favor of more efficient LEDs. Vermont’s utility-sponsored efficiency programs provide robust funding to low-income households.
Maine improved most since the last scorecard, moving up 11 spots to #5. The state set a goal to weatherize 35,000 homes and businesses and to heat at least 115,000 homes with high-efficiency electric heat pumps by 2030. State-funded affordable housing projects must be all-electric and include electric vehicle charging. Maine also adopted new appliance standards and enacted a comprehensive electric vehicle plan with equity as a key focus.
“As the most heating-oil-dependent state in the country, and with our electricity grid over-reliant on natural gas, improving energy efficiency in Maine is essential for cutting costs for Maine households while also curbing harmful carbon emissions,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This recognition by ACEEE affirms Maine’s leadership on energy efficiency, which is even more critical now given the unprecedented energy prices our region is experiencing since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am proud of Maine’s progress and will continue to make available programs and incentives to help Maine people reduce their energy costs and improve energy efficiency.”
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South Carolina saw the steepest drop in the rankings in 2022, falling to 49th place. South Carolina lost points for allowing industrial, manufacturing, and retail commercial customers to opt out of energy efficiency programs and for restricting energy efficiency funds from incentivizing beneficial electrification. Ohio fell seven spots to 44th place. As a result of a 2019 law (HB 6) that restricted utilities’ ability to fund efficiency programs, Ohio saw a steep decline in utility-reported electric savings in 2021. Once a Midwest leader on energy efficiency, Ohio previously accounted for about 5% of the nation’s total electricity savings but is now close to 0% of national savings.
The report revealed some additional innovative policies to save energy and reduce emissions across states and policy areas:
- Transportation: 16 states and DC have adopted California’s zero-emissions vehicle program to phase out light-duty vehicles fueled by gasoline or diesel. Eight states and DC received points in the scorecard for establishing dedicated funding to install charging equipment in low-income and underserved communities.
- Industry: To reduce GHG emissions in the industrial sector, seven states and DC were awarded the maximum possible points in the scorecard for offering technical assistance for strategic energy management, supporting workers re-training for jobs in industrial energy efficiency, and establishing specific decarbonization targets for industry.
- State-government initiatives: Six states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island) led in advancing energy efficiency across other sectors, such as setting energy-saving requirements for public buildings and fleets, setting goals to reduce energy burdens among low-income residents, and enabling inclusive participation of marginalized groups in decision-making processes.
- Appliance standards: Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington adopted new and updated appliance standards, and New York is updating its standards. New Jersey is expected to avoid 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2040 because of its updated standards.