Energy Efficiency in State Implementation Plans: The Best Recipe for Clean Air

Blog Post | March 13, 2014 - 10:29 am
By Garrett Herndon , National Policy Research Assistant

A new tool released today by ACEEE may provide the secret ingredient for achieving emissions reductions that can appeal to even the most finicky tastes.

Energy efficiency has repeatedly been touted as the least-cost, most rapidly deployable mechanism for reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. Twenty-six states already have in place some form of energy efficiency standard. Additionally, there’s a whole menu of utility programs, tax incentives, and government policies, all boosting energy efficiency at the national, regional, state, and local levels.

Despite the prevalence of this vital ingredient for improving air quality, however, relatively few jurisdictions have successfully implemented energy efficiency policies into their recipes for satisfying National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

This fact represents an apparent disconnect. EPA has endorsed efficiency many times as a resource for improving air quality, publishing various forms of guidance detailing all the steps necessary to incorporate these policies into air quality planning and quantify their emissions benefits. Based on EPA’s Roadmap for Incorporating Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy Policies and Programs into State and Tribal Implementation Plans , the ACEEE state implementation plans (SIP) template tool expands on the head chef’s recipe by clarifying and condensing this guidance, and encouraging states to include efficiency as an ingredient in their air quality planning. The tool builds upon EPA guidance, SIPs that have been accepted by EPA Regional Offices and include energy efficiency, as well as our organization’s own expertise on energy efficiency policies and programs. Using this tool, state energy offices can “shake and bake” energy efficiency into their SIPs for NAAQS, and serve up air quality benefits to satisfy any palate.

Once EPA decides what mechanisms are on the menu for complying with new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions from existing sources, a “SIP-like process” will be required for states to submit plans to reach compliance. In this capacity, efficiency may still add the zest states will need to achieve meaningful emissions reductions, but only time will tell what the head chef decides. Assuming efficiency is still left on the menu as a compliance option, as it should be, ACEEE’s SIP template tool will again prove valuable in spicing up air quality compliance. Bon appétit!

For more information about air emissions and energy efficiency, check out our 1,2,3 Solutions page.