States step up climate efforts by requiring utilities to increase energy efficiency

(ACEEE blog, 30 Mar 2020) Before the COVID-19 pandemic adjourned state legislative sessions, several states took significant climate action this year by leaning on local utilities to ramp up programs that help customers save energy. Their tool of choice? The energy efficiency resource standard (EERS), a policy that requires utilities or statewide administrators to hit long-term energy savings targets by ramping up energy efficiency programs for homes and businesses.

This month, Virginia became the first state in the South to enact an EERS in a decade. New York became the second state in the nation after Massachusetts to set an EERS designed to encourage all forms of building decarbonization, including electrifying major building equipment. New Jersey and Washington, D.C. are also taking critical steps to implement recent EERS legislation as a key part of their climate efforts, and Maryland, Illinois, and Minnesota are considering legislation to expand their existing EERSs.

Energy efficiency: A cornerstone climate effort

State and city efforts to reach Paris Agreement climate targets will require major contributions from energy efficiency to cut greenhouse gas emissions equitably, cost-effectively, and reliably. And states are recognizing this. Many of the states that took action in 2019 toward making their electricity sectors carbon free by 2045–2050, such as California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, have a significant EERS in place to ensure that utilities are pulling their weight.

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ACEEE blog, 30 Mar 2020: States step up climate efforts by requiring utilities to increase energy efficiency