The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has ranked Hawai'i 12th among the states for energy efficiency.
That's up from both 2006 and 2008, when Hawai'i was tied for 15th. The scorecard was compiled by Humboldt State University and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The fact that we're improving is a good sign, in part because everyone is improving, and we're doing slightly better than keeping up with the crowd.
But clearly, and particularly in the state with the highest energy costs in the nation, there's much more that we could do. Our state gets a score on the ACEEE ranking of just 24.5 out of possible 50 points.
The most heavily weighted judging category covers “Utility and Public Benefits Fund Efficiency Programs and Policies” which is a total of 20 possible points and Hawai'i gets 12. This one covers electricity efficiency programs and savings from them, natural gas efficiency, performance incentives and established targets.
Clearly, some of these rankings are a little arbitrary (We don't use much natural gas, and despite a zero score on this measure, Hawai'i still ranked 10th overall in the larger category.)
On Transportation, we get 2 out of a possible 8. It's another area where the rankings are iffy. Hawai'i got no points for transit funding, which means these folks haven't been listening to our state's rail debates, the expanding bus system on Kaua'i, and so forth. We also got no points because our state lacks vehicle tailpipe emission standards, which 15 states do have. We did get a point (the maximum possible) for our state's support of alternative fuel vehicles.
On Building Energy Code we get 4 of 7. Our state is working on enacting a high-energy-efficiency building code, but we're not there yet, accounting for this score.
On Combined Heat and Power, we get 3 of 5. This refers to a power generation system in which the heat from a generation unit is recovered to improve efficiency or produce more power. It's also called cogeneration. This category also includes a basket of measures, including rate structure, incentives for distributed power systems, and others.
On state government initiatives we get 3.5 of 7. The state got full marks for its various “lead by example” demonstration efforts, which presumably include retrofits of state buildings, support for electric vehicles and so forth. We did poorly on our commitment to research and development, and also poorly on the state's tax incentives, loan programs and other financial support for efficiency.
On Appliance Efficiency Standards, we get 0 of 3. Not a proud ranking. “States have historically led the way when it comes to establishing standards for appliances and other equipment,” the report says. And while the federal government has standards for a lot of equipment, it doesn't govern everything. This measure looks at the amount of energy saved by such standards, where they exist.
So, the ACEEE ranking isn't entirely fair, or entirely up-to-date, but it's a useful measure for identifying places where, as a state, we need work.
© Jan TenBruggencate 2010