An energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) establishes specific, long-term targets for energy savings that utilities or non-utility program administrators must meet through customer energy efficiency programs. An EERS can apply to electric or natural gas utilities, or both, depending on the state, and can be adopted through legislation or regulation. An EERS is similar in concept to a renewable energy standard (RES) or renewable portfolio standard (RPS). While an RES requires that electric utilities generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, an EERS requires that they achieve a certain amount of energy savings from energy efficiency measures. As of January 2017, 26 states have EERS policies in place. The strongest EERS requirements are in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which require more than 2.5% new savings annually. For a complete summary of state-level EERS policies and impacts, see the State EERS Policy Brief.
A federal EERS would complement existing state-level energy efficiency standards by setting a national goal for energy savings with targets for utilities in every state. A modest EERS passed the House in 2009. More recently, the American Energy Efficiency Act of 2015 was introduced in the Senate, and a similar provision in the House. It proposes a 20% electricity savings and 13% natural gas savings target by 2030 (as well as annual savings targets of 1.75% for electricity and 1% for gas). ACEEE found that meeting these targets would result in cumulative net savings of almost $150 billion by 2040. Read more about our analysis here.
At both the federal and state levels, an energy efficiency resource standard is a critical policy that lays the foundation for sustained investment in energy efficiency. The long-term goals associated with an EERS send a clear signal to market actors about the importance of energy efficiency in utility program planning, creating a level of certainty that encourages large-scale investment in cost-effective energy efficiency.