Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hawai'i okay, not great, on energy efficiency

The cheapest form of energy is the energy you don't use.

That can mean conservation—turning off the lights. But more importantly, perhaps, it can mean efficiency.

A modern refrigerator that does the same work with half the power of an old model has zero impact on the quality of life, but a positive impact on both the environment and the pocketbook. (Image credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory.)

So, how does Hawai'i rank in energy efficiency?

Okay, but nowhere near great, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The council just released its 2008 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. (It's free to download at

Hawaii may have the highest power bills in the country, and may pay stunningly high fuel costs—but we're not in the top 10 states when it comes to efficiency.

In fact, we're in a three-way tie for 15th.

Using the refrigerator analogy, we're still using our grandmother's old power-guzzling round-shouldered model. Came in any color you wanted, as long as it was white.

On the ACEEE's scorecard, we get just 17 out of 50 possible points for energy efficiency.
That's way out of first place, where California got with 40.5 points, and even way out of 10th place, which New Jersey won with a 25.5.

The ACEEE study looked at and ranked eight areas of state policy: utility sector and public benefit programs; transportation policy; building codes; combined heat and power; appliance efficiency standards; lead-by-example in state facilities and fleets; research, development and deployment; and financial and information incentives.

Hawai'i got zero points in three of those categories: energy efficiency standards for appliances; research, development and deployment; and financial and information incentives.

To be sure, the data is for 2007, and Gov. Linda Lingle in January 2008 signed the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative, although its main goal is not efficiency but renewable energy. Still, it signals a serious state concern about the energy situation.

And certainly, there are lots of states with worse records than the Islands. Alaska scored 37th with a 6.5, West Virginia 43rd with 5.5 and Wyoming ranked dead last (51st in this ranking, which included the District of Columbia) with a zero.

Why are the state-by-state rankings important? That's because the states are where the nation's serious energy efficiency work is being done—and not on the federal level, ACEEE says.

“States are leading the nation in advancing energy efficiency policies and programs, which is why it is important to recognize and document best practices among the states, both to encourage other states to follow and to encourage federal action to catch up,” the report says.

©2008 Jan TenBruggencate

1 comment:

miggs said...

CHP is really the key to energy efficiency, at least on a large scale. I'm associated with Recycled Energy Development, a company that turns manufacturers' waste heat into clean power and steam -- which is a form of CHP. Studies say we could cut greenhouse pollution by 20% that way -- as much as if we took every car off the road. Meanwhile, prices would plummet due to increased efficiency. So why isn't more being done? simple: regulations protect monopoly utilities, making it hard for cheaper, cleaner options to emerge. Hawaii should make sure the regulations are conducive to CHP.