According to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) study, Texas now ranks 32nd among U.S. states in energy efficiency, down from 23rd in 2009. The current 10 top-ranked states in energy efficiency are shown below:
4. New York
7. Rhode Island
8. (tie) Connecticut
8. (tie) Minnesota
Even Arizona and New Mexico have recently outstripped Texas, with Arizona adopting new energy-saving targets that moved them from 29th to 18th, and New Mexico climbing from 30th to 22nd with the passage of stringent new building codes, coupled with performance incentives for utilities to become more energy-efficient.
In 2007, another ACEEE report found that, with ambitious energy-efficiency efforts, Texas could eliminate about 75 percent of the projected growth in electricity demand over the next 15 years. Since then, the Public Utility Commission has raised the utilities’ target for energy efficiency – now at 20 percent – to 25 percent by 2012 and 30 percent by 2013.
Several major Texas cities, notably Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, have adopted forward-looking codes, but even they could step it up a notch. Backing from the Legislature would signal to other Texas cities that improving energy efficiency isn’t a local option but a statewide priority.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.
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Posted in Efficiency, Renewables, tagged ACEEE, alliance for a clean texas, american council for an energy effient economy, appliance efficiency standards, committee assignments, energy demand, Energy Efficiency, incentives, LoanSTAR, renewable energy, Renewables, retrofits, solar, systems benefit fund, Texas, utilties code, wind, wind energy on February 20, 2009 |
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With the announcement of the Texas Legislature Committee rosters, I thought that some light should be shed on the 2009 Legislative Recommendations as posted by the Alliance for a Clean Texas. You can read the full reports here, but here’s a quick-read version for renewable energy and energy efficiency issues:
- Diversify our Renewable Energy Mix. Its no surprise to most of us that Texas is in first place for renewable energy resources. Legislation has historically supported wind energy, but so much of our potential has not been tapped. Studies have shown that that our potential for solar is even greater than that of wind.
- Incentives for Solar Roofs and other On-site Renewables. Instead of relying on power plants to supply our energy, wouldn’t it be great if we could have our power sources closer to home? On-site renewable technologies would be cheaper considering the spike in energy costs during high-demand season, and of course would help to improve air quality. Solar power is especially efficient, with new technologies that can be installed directly on the roofs of buildings. However, the current cost of a home or commericial system is still not cost-effective without government incentives. Solar power is estimated to reach parity with traditional electricity sources within the next five years. By getting a jump on it ahead of time, early investment will allow Texas to benefit economically as demand increases.
- Raise the Energy Efficiency Goal. Texas should aim to decrease both energy demand and energy usage. ACT recommends that the Legislature should raise the goal to 1.0 percent of peak demand and energy use by 2015 (equivalent to 50 percent load growth by 2015). By contributing only a small percentage of revenue, utility companies can invest in energy efficiency programs that will decrease peak demand of energy usage. In 2007, the legislature unanimously approved a 20% decrease in load growth by 2009, and a research study required by the legislation also supported our ability to cut load growth by 50% by 2015. (more…)
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For the past 30 years, previous administrations have failed to write regulations to enforce the laws, despite strong pushes by Congress and even a court order to attain stricter energy standards on 30 categories of appliances, according to a recent New York Times article. Speaking to the Department of Energy recently, however, President Obama ordered the department to immediately draft standards to make a variety of appliances more energy efficient. While some would expect that these standards will lead to more expensive appliances, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) points out:
Under standards, equipment prices have risen modestly, but estimates by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and ACEEE indicate that the benefits are more than 3 times the costs on a net present value basis.
Obama said he plans on complying with the laws, beginning this year with nine categories of appliances, including ovens, vending machines, microwave ovens, dishwashers and light bulbs. The President said that “this will save consumers money, this will spur innovation and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy.” My boy, former President George W. Bush, had completed seven standards, leaving office with fifteen yet to be written. Mr. Obama intends to toughen the standards issued by the Bush administration and of course get started where Bush left off. The fact that Bush completed only seven of the fifteen measures in eight years is pretty consistent with the priorities he had while in office. Obama taking the initiative early on to see that the rest of the standards get completed as well as improve upon the existing standards is a promising sign for our country’s energy future.
One very specific concern of the Department of Energy is to develop stricter efficiency standards for fluorescent light bulbs. Doing so could save businesses and households as much as $67 billion over the next 30 years. Congress hopes to phase out the traditional incandescent bulb by 2014.
While this is all super exciting, you can get started on making your home more energy efficient right now! Just check out your energy provider’s website at www.powertochoose.org. Most utilities offer customers tips on how to make their homes more energy efficient (i.e. upgrading to more energy efficient appliances as well as taking measures such as installing attic insulation, solar screens on windows, caulking, and weatherstripping), while some provide customers rebates and incentives for taking said measures. Get started today!
For more advice on saving energy, visit the Department of Energy’s Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
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