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States Stepping Forward: Best Practices for State-Led Energy Efficiency Programs


September 15, 2010

Research Report E106

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The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) conducted its first-ever awards project for exceptional state-led energy efficiency programs, modeled after previous projects focusing on utility programs. As new funding sources become available to states through federal stimulus, cap-and-trade initiatives, and other state and federal sources, state governments are stepping forward and taking on greater responsibilities implementing energy efficiency programs. The report highlights many leading states that have been running energy efficiency programs for decades, as well as programs recently developed with new sources of funding. 

The robust new resources in all states and their rapid pace of deployment demands up-to-date, quality data and information about exemplary programs. In response to this need, our project has two main objectives: (1) to provide information about top quality state energy efficiency program designs and implementation methods to help others improve their programs or serve as models for new programs and initiatives; and (2) to recognize programs that are exemplary in reducing energy use and energy costs through energy efficiency, and providing economic benefits to customers and taxpayers.

After a nomination period from January through February 2010 in which ACEEE accepted nominations from programs administered by state institutions, an expert panel examined the field of nominations and decided on five award winners, ten honorable mentions, and three emerging programs. The winners come from every region of the country and represent numerous useful models for energy efficiency program implementation. The programs address many sectors including residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, agricultural, and transportation.

While the programs differ in their approach, they all achieve substantial energy savings for customers, lowering energy costs and reducing the negative environmental impacts of energy use. Some programs deliver training and informational services that will lead to energy savings indirectly. Each program highlights how state governments can implement successful energy efficiency programs and complement the existing program landscape offered by utilities and third-party program administrators. States can address sectors and customer segments underserved by utilities. In particular, states often specialize in programs targeting institutional facilities such as state government buildings. Many of these programs demonstrate collaboration between public and private stakeholders, serving as models for effectively coordinated and highly leveraged programs.