Energy Efficiency

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages states to continue to evaluate the energy efficiency and demand reduction opportunities that can be achieved with electric utility grid modernization efforts, subject to the unique and specific circumstances that exist in their respective state.

States and local governments provide more than1,000 incentive programs to encourage energy efficiency. Some economists suggest the benefits of these programs are questionable and some efficiency mandates or programs wind up encouraging more, rather than less, energy consumption - which is referred to as a rebound effect. The concept has stirred strong debate in research groups and think tanks that provide lessons for states as they develop new or monitor existing efficiency programs.

The crystal ball is murky when it comes to predictions about energy consumption, markets and future trends.

Consider hydraulic fracturing, for example. Ten years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated resource potential in the Marcellus Shale region was off by 70 times, according to current federal surveys.

“I think it’s essentially impossible to anticipate what energy markets are going to look like in 20 or 30 years, because the rate of change in technology and potential for climate change are so great and so disruptive that the world is going to be fundamentally different than it is now,” said John Petersen, the founder of the Arlington Institute, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on future global trends.

In the early stages of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, one particular program—the $3.1 billion State Energy Program—had more than its share of controversy. Eventually, however, every state and territory accepted the money, but some have been slow to spend those funds. Now, the clock is ticking: States have until April 30 to spend their remaining balances. Multiple 

reasons explain why the program was slow to get off the ground and why states have had difficulties spending their allocated funds.

In the early stages of the Recovery Act, one particular program—the $3.1 billion State Energy Program—had more than its share of controversy. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford made headlines by rejecting stimulus dollars tied to the program, classifying it as fiscally unsustainable.

Water Smart Homes, water-conserving appliances, and changing landscaping practices can help people to conserve water and save on their water bills.

With gas prices rapidly approaching $4 a gallon across much of the country and unrest gripping large portions of the Middle East, states and the federal government are facing a series of pressing energy challenges. While much attention is frequently given to U.S. dependence on foreign oil, questions about rural energy production and access to markets are no less pressing in large portions of the country. 

This Act requires the state department of community, trade, and economic development to implement a strategic plan to enhance energy efficiency in and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes, buildings, districts, and neighborhoods. It directs the department and the state building code council to convene a work group to develop the plan. The Act requires the state energy code be designed to accelerate construction of energy efficient homes and buildings which help achieve a broad goal of building zero fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emission homes and buildings by the year 2031.

According to The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference staff, this Act generally creates an "Efficiency Trust" to develop funding sources to pay to weatherize all residential buildings and half of commercial buildings in the state by 2030, which is in line with the state‘s greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

Seven states in the Midwest now have adopted energy-efficiency resource standards, a policy tool increasingly being used by lawmakers to promote energy conservation and cut consumers’ electric bills over the long run.