California holds the unofficial title of greenest of US states. But Massachusetts might swipe the crown if it keeps up its current pace investing in green energy.

For those in the energy efficiency industry, Massachusetts is a state to watch for opportunity. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts the top state for energy efficiency two years running. Massachusetts spends more per capita on efficiency than any other, and it requires that its utilities seek all cost-effective energy efficiency before securing new power sources.

Expect opportunity to heighten in Massachusetts next year. A key state advisory council in November approved utility efficiency plans that total $2.01 billion for 2013-2015. The plans require approval by the state Department of Public Utilities. A decision is likely in early 2013.

The utilities expect the plans to save 3.7 million MWh of electricity, enough to power more than 500,000 households for one year. Money for the programs comes from a surcharge on utility bills and auction proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Massachusetts utilities already offer a broad swath of efficiency programs under their previous three-year plan. A report from an energy advisory council to the Massachusetts State Legislature highlights results and includes several brief case studies, among them:

  • Cape Cod’s famous Sea Crest Hotel is saving more than $83,000 annually in energy costs because of a $413,000 renovation that included re-insulation, Energy Star windows, high efficiency lighting and sensors, and a roof that is weather-proofed against salt air. The Sea Crest received incentives of $126,536. Payback is 3.4 years.
  • Simonds International, a worldwide manufacturer of cutting tools, installed a $5.5 million combined heat and power plant. The on-site project is expected to save Simonds $1.7 million per year over 24 years. Simonds received incentives of $606,546. Payback is 2.9 years.
  • A family in the town of Westford installed over a dozen CFL light bulbs at no cost, following an audit. The auditor also recommended sealing the air leaks and adding insulation to the 48-year-old home. The project cost $3,486, partially offset by incentives totaling $2,550. The family’s annual energy savings is $228.36 and payback is four years.

Neighboring Connecticut is another state to watch in 2013. Already ranked high by ACEEE, Connecticut is preparing a new state energy plan that in draft form places renewed emphasis on energy efficiency. Among other things the plan calls for reaching “all sectors and all buildings,” including government, municipalities, universities, colleges, schools, hospitals, churches, businesses and homes.” It places special focus on small businesses and low-income housing.

Connecticut’s plan goes beyond a “traditional focus on upgraded lighting and weather stripping to deliver deeper efficiency gains in heating, air conditioning, ventilation, insulation, windows, furnaces, boilers, and other appliances.”

In addition, Connecticut intends to set efficiency standards for new construction and retrofits. The plan calls for benchmarking buildings and requiring owners then disclose efficiency scores when renting or selling the property.

The Connecticut proposal is winding its way through the state approval process, which readers can follow on the website of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Then there is California, no longer number one for energy efficiency, but always the elephant in the room when it comes to green energy in the US. The California Public Utilities Commission has approved about $2 billion in energy efficiency programs for 2013-2014.

“The nearly $2 billion investment over the next two years will enable utilities, local governments, nonprofits, and others like energy efficiency auditors, installers, and retrofit companies carry out programs beginning in January 2013 to help electric and natural gas utility customers save energy,” says Lara Ettenson, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a recent blog.

More information is available at the California Division of Ratepayer Advocates site.

For information on prospect for business in New York, see my December 12 blog, “Markets for Energy Efficiency 2013: Part I”.

Elisa Wood is a long-time energy writer whose work appears in many of the industry’s top magazines and newsletters. She is publisher of the Energy Efficiency Markets podcast and newsletter.


About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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