Texas Stumbles Further on Energy Efficiency Rankings
AUSTIN – A new report released today by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranks Texas 32nd in the nation for programs to promote energy efficiency, a drop from last year’s ranking of 23 and the previous year’s ranking of 19. A coalition of clean energy groups seized on the findings to call on the state of Texas to boost energy codes in buildings and establish an Energy Efficiency Office.
“Energy efficiency lowers the wholesale price of electricity and gas, which acts as a tax cut for Texas residents and businesses,” said Joyce Yao, Clean Energy Associate of Environment Texas. “While other states have made the necessarily investments in energy efficiency to help their residents save money, Texas continues to lag behind, forcing Texans to pay too much on energy bills. We need to create an independent state agency for energy efficiency to benefit consumers, save the state a substantial amount of money and streamline state processes.”
The coalition of clean energy groups also called on code officials across the state to support the Thirty Percent Solution at the International Code Council’s Final Action Hearings at the end of the month. This would increase energy codes by 30% over the 2006 IECC, and is part of a two-step process to achieve a 50% increase in energy efficiency by 2018, yielding a 20% reduction in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions from our nation’s buildings by 2020.
While Texas was an early leader in energy efficiency investments, other states have dramatically increased their energy savings programs, leading to Texas’ decline in the overall state rankings. In a December 2008 report, the Public Utility Commission of Texas found vast potential for energy efficiency in the state which, if tapped, could save Texans as much $11.9 billion on their electric bills.
One explanation for why Texas lags on energy efficiency on the national level is the failure to have any statewide program to reduce natural gas use. Furthermore, due to inadequate tracking and coordination by the state, some efficiency efforts – such as municipal efficiency programs – are not being credited, which may have factored into Texas’s staggering drop in the ACEEE’s scorecard. This further highlights the need for an independent Energy Efficiency Coordinating Council that can comprehensively track the state’s progress on energy efficiency measures.
“The Sunset Review of our main environmental, housing, water and energy agencies in Texas and the upcoming legislative session provide the perfect opportunity to see how our existing programs can be enhanced on energy efficiency, but also how we can at the same time save our businesses and residents money on gas and water bills,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We need coordinated electric, gas and water conservation programs in Texas so we can save money, reduce pollution and create jobs for Texans.”
“This report indicates a dire need for reform of the way our state leaders treat the most consumer-friendly energy resource,” said Matthew Johnson, Energy Efficiency Research Associate at Public Citizen. “The silver lining to this sobering wake-up call is the coming legislative session. Legislators have an opportunity to bring the uncoordinated state agencies in line so Texans get a chance to learn and participate in the broad array of energy efficiency opportunities.”