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Energy Efficiency Resource Standards: State and Utility Strategies for Higher Energy Savings

June 15, 2011

Research Report U113


Seth Nowak, Martin Kushler, Michael Sciortino, Dan York, and Patti Witte


Twenty-two states adopted Energy Efficiency Resources Standards (EERS) between 2007 and 2010, passing the tipping point so that now more than half of all states have EERS in place for electricity, natural gas, or both. Many states with well-established ratepayer-funded energy efficiency portfolios have been expanding and enhancing their efforts, raising annual percent savings targets to unprecedented levels. There is also a new breed of states launching comprehensive and extensive efficiency efforts built to achieve annual savings goals of 1%, 1.5%, and even 2% within just a few years. These “Established Savers” and “Rapid Start” states have been scaling up budgets, enacting both supportive and complementary policies, and bringing together collaborative stakeholder groups to achieve and sustain aggressive savings. Utilities have been responding to this new policy environment by adding and developing programs, efficient technologies, market segmentation strategies, program approaches, and program designs. For this report, we picked six states in each group to research in order to capture and describe the trends and themes, take a snapshot of results to date, and assess the outlook for the future. We collected data by utility and by state, conducting interviews with 36 program administrators, managers, and state and nonprofit experts with knowledge of how stepped-up savings levels would be attained and sustained. Their on-the-ground, in-the-field perspective was then complemented by the broader views and observations of seven nationally-known industry experts.