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ACEEE Blog


November 14, 2014 - 5:41pm

By David Ribeiro, Research Analyst


ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released last month. You may have seen the rankings, but did you know that combined heat and power (CHP) has its own chapter? We’ve been publishing the Scorecard since 2007. Each year, we’ve seen the policy landscape change, and we’ve refined the metrics to quantify state progress in each policy area to make sure they keep pace with current trends. The CHP chapter is no exception. In 2012, we gave the CHP scoring metrics a significant facelift (see this white paper for more details), but even with the flood of input from states and regional organizations, assessing state friendliness to CHP is an inexact science. Many informed experts have different thoughts on the appropriate methodology. This is made clear to us every year from the volume and thoroughness of CHP-related comments we receive for the Scorecard.

There are two general comments that are particularly important: Are the policies we score states on successfully moving the needle in CHP deployment? Are we weighing the specific policy metrics in a way that truly reflects their importance?

These are fair questions that are difficult to answer....


November 11, 2014 - 4:55pm

By John A. "Skip" Laitner, Consultant


History teaches us that technological advances often lead to new opportunities to reach greater heights. A precipitous decline in the cost of computing power and data storage, and dramatic improvements in programming science, have resulted in the potential for every device to become a connected, “smart” device. Such devices can collect and process enormous amounts of data, making possible many kinds of analysis and higher levels of performance that were unachievable just a decade ago.

One result is increased energy efficiency, the delivery of greater levels of service using fewer energy resources. In a new ACEEE report, we’ve looked at this expanded use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and found that it could become a leading catalyst to boost greater economic productivity while saving money and reducing environmental impacts.

The impact of ICT is being felt across all sectors. Equipment and systems used in buildings, transportation, and manufacturing are becoming adaptive, anticipatory, and networked to one another, both within a facility and across a supply chain. These networked devices can be made even smarter by adding capabilities like context awareness, increased processing power, and independent energy resources. As the devices are interconnected, and managed by the use of multi-objective...


November 10, 2014 - 3:14pm

By Annie Gilleo, State Policy Research Analyst


Voters made many decisions on Election Day. Governors were chosen and new laws were adopted. But one choice Arizona voters didn’t get to make may raise utility costs for families and businesses in the state. On November 4th, while Arizona voters were focused on exit polls and election results, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) staff quietly released a proposal for new energy efficiency rules that would eliminate the state’s ambitious electricity and natural gas savings standards.

The proposed rules would be a major step backward for the state. In recent years, Arizona has staked a place as an energy efficiency leader in the Southwest. The state saved more energy than any other state in the region in 2013. In fact, the nearly 1.75% electricity savings Arizona achieved was fourth highest in the country. Arizona has reached these high levels of savings for utility customers as a direct result of its energy efficiency standards, which were established in 2010 by a unanimous and bipartisan ACC decision. Since then, Arizona has climbed from the 29th to the 15th...


November 5, 2014 - 11:56am

By Rachel Young, National Policy Research Analyst


Let’s have a conversation about water and energy. We know that the two resources are connected: We need water to produce electricity, mostly for thermal power plants (though we are going to put that aside today). We need energy to pump water out of the ground, treat it so it is potable, and then re-treat it after we use it to shower or wash clothes. We also need energy to heat water in our homes, businesses, and industrial facilities. Recognizing these intersections opens up opportunities for utilities and businesses to save more energy and conserve more water, while helping policymakers and regulators design more strategic and cross-cutting policies.

How much energy does it take to get water from the ground, or a lake, or a mountain, to your house? And, after it goes down the drain, how much energy does it take to process that water so it can go back to your house, or back to its source? Well, as with most things, the answer is complicated. ACEEE has taken a stab at gathering some of the relevant literature and studies to get an idea of what the answer to that question is. In our new paper, Watts in a Drop of Water: Savings at the Water-Energy Nexus, we attempt to estimate the amount of energy required to move and treat water.

The ranges of water’s energy intensity vary dramatically, particularly...


November 4, 2014 - 9:47am

By Steven Nadel, Executive Director


The E2e project released a working paper recently that evaluates the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP), funded in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In the paper, authors Sebastien Houde and Joseph Aldy find that the SEEARP program provided little economic stimulation or energy savings. These results are not surprising, given problems with the design of the program (points that ACEEE made when states were crafting their versions of the program). However, Houde and Aldy’s conclusion that incentive programs as a class are costly and ineffective is an unjustified case of guilt by association.

Houde and Aldy examined sales of three appliances (refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers) that accounted for 65% of SEEARP expenditures. So their conclusions apply only to those products and not to others, such as water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps, which were included in some state programs.

The appliances included in their study represent major purchases and small incentives (Houde and Aldy find that incentives averaged 12-15% of product cost); too small to spur large numbers of consumers to make major purchases they were not planning to make, particularly during a recession. Not surprisingly, Houde and Aldy find that most...


October 30, 2014 - 3:07pm

By Steven Nadel, Executive Director


Every few years, a new paper comes out about the rebound effect and the issue receives some short-term attention. (When a consumer or business buys an efficient car or air conditioner, they may use their energy-efficient equipment a little more often or may spend some of their energy bill savings on things that use energy—these are examples of rebound effects.) ACEEE wrote a paper on the rebound effect in 2012, concluding that both direct and indirect rebound effects exist, but they tend to be modest. Overall, we found that rebound may average about 20%, meaning that 80% of the savings from energy efficiency programs and policies register in terms of reduced energy use, while the 20% rebound contributes to increased consumer amenities (for example, more comfortable homes) as well as to a larger economy.

Recently, E2e and the Breakthrough...


October 30, 2014 - 10:22am

By Anna Chittum, Visiting Fellow


We’ve heard a lot lately about some large energy-using customers like large factories and retail chains seeking to opt out of energy efficiency programs. But what about the states and utility service territories where these customers are opting-in instead? It’s happening. It turns out that when efficiency programs are done right, customers are clamoring to participate.

Even though energy efficiency investments are highly cost effective and offer tremendous additional benefits, making such investments does not come naturally to some business owners. There are many reasons for this, but a critical barrier is that some companies lack the internal resources to identify efficiency investments. Companies may also find that even if a highly cost-effective efficiency opportunity is found, the return on investment is insufficient to satisfy their internal requirements. Savings are left on the table.

We know that savings are left unrealized because when customers opt out of energy efficiency programs and claim that they’ve made all cost-effective investments, those programs are still able to find cost-effective savings opportunities at the company’s site. Energy efficiency programs can provide access to technical expertise...


October 28, 2014 - 10:28am

By Matthew McNerney, Research Assistant, Economic Program


This winter, ACEEE, in partnership with Energi Insurance Services, will host a second gathering of select members of the Small Lenders Energy Efficiency Community (SLEEC) in Washington, D.C. The initial SLEEC convening in October 2013 brought together small- to medium-size lenders to discuss strategies for expanding activity in the market for energy efficiency financing. Building off the success of that first meeting, the second SLEEC gathering will focus exclusively on financing in the multifamily sector, a traditionally underserved but recently active space in the energy efficiency world.

The goal of the upcoming SLEEC meeting is to discuss how recent developments inform the lender perspective on the size, attractiveness, and viability of the finance market for multifamily efficiency. We chose to address multifamily this year because potential savings are phenomenal at an estimated $3.4 billion per annum, and multifamily has traditionally been characterized by the label “hard to reach” due to significant barriers to entry. Single-family residential, large commercial, and MUSH (municipal, universities, schools, and hospitals) markets pose fewer barriers and have therefore been...


October 16, 2014 - 4:25pm

By Annie Gilleo, State Policy Research Analyst


We spend a lot of time here at ACEEE with numbers. We calculate energy savings, efficiency investments, and jobs. Even with all this data at our fingertips, though, I’m always most curious to see the numbers we produce every fall in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. This will be the eighth year we’ve ranked states on their adoption of policies that encourage energy efficiency, and while some results are easy to predict, there are always a few surprises. As the launch of the 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard draws near, here are just a few numbers to whet your appetite:

51: Number of “states” we rank in the State Scorecard. Thought there were only 50 states in the U.S.? Well you’re right, but we include the District of Columbia too!

3: Number of U.S. territories scored in the 2014 State Scorecard. For the first time, we’ve worked with our contacts in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to bring you up-to-date information on their energy efficiency initiatives.

31: Number of metrics we assess to generate state scores. These metrics span seven policy areas and cover everything from goals to reduce vehicle miles travelled to incentives for ...


October 8, 2014 - 2:28pm

By Glee Murray, Associate Director for Outreach


Anniversaries serve to remind us where we’ve come from, how much we’ve accomplished, and where we’re headed. What better way to launch ACEEE’s 35th anniversary as an organization (coming up in 2015) than by paying tribute to Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld, who was instrumental in our creation and guides our vision still? Art is our founder and is currently distinguished scientist emeritus at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and professor emeritus of physics, University of California, Berkeley.

We asked seven leaders in the energy efficiency community to help us make a video honoring Art at our recent Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. The stories they told and the history they shared with the sold-out crowd inspired Art to deliver an impromptu remembrance to “1,000 of his closest friends,” as he put it. He recalled the pivotal point in his career when he shifted from high-energy physics to developing the field that became energy efficiency. And, yes, his mesmerizing present-at-the creation story about the origin of ACEEE involved Jimmy Carter and that dang sweater!

We are indebted to these seven energy efficiency luminaries for sharing their memories and heartfelt thoughts about Art in the tribute video:

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