Connecticut’s 6th place ranking in ACEEE’s 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard is a strong achievement. However, holding steady remains a challenge for the Nutmeg State as other peer states, like Oregon and Maryland, continue to improve their efficiency efforts. So where can Connecticut find more points for next year and perhaps even climb in the rankings? Here are two suggestions for (nearly) immediate gains.
Building Energy Codes: Putting in place modern building energy codes is crucial because it ensures that new buildings start off highly efficient. Connecticut has unfortunately not yet implemented the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a leading model energy code for new residential and commercial construction. Most leading states have already adopted the 2012 IECC and Connecticut law even required the state to adopt the 2012 IECC within 18 months of its publication date, but Connecticut is now almost three years past that deadline with no clear adoption date in sight. If the 2012 IECC were already in place, it would not only have earned a full point under ACEEE’s scoring, but also would have locked in major energy savings as all new construction would have had to comply with this more stringent code level for the last three years. Connecticut should commit now to a firm adoption deadline in early 2016.
Combined Heat and Power: Combined heat and power (CHP) is a way to generate electricity and produce heat through the use of a single fuel, usually natural gas. CHP projects are highly efficient because they generate electricity on-site – rather than at remote power plants – and they use the waste heat for heating or industrial needs. Connecticut was an early leader in deploying CHP, but has stalled recently, installing only 3.7 MW of new capacity in 2013 and 2014 combined. The state’s 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy tentatively determined that 100 MW of cost-effective CHP was potentially available. By establishing a comprehensive CHP program that seeks to acquire significant new capacity and that also sets production goals for CHP generation, Connecticut could gain an additional point with ACEEE. More importantly, Connecticut could accelerate the deployment of this industry-friendly local energy resource at a time when the state needs to protect and grow its manufacturing base. Connecticut policymakers should set up a robust CHP program through new legislation in the upcoming 2016 session.
With these two reforms, Connecticut could have earned two more points with ACEEE and moved up to 4th place in the 2015 efficiency rankings. Perhaps the scoring methodology for 2016 will change – and certainly other states will continue to improve – but if Connecticut wants to keep pressing forward with energy efficiency policy innovation, it should take a hard look at energy codes and CHP.
Bill Dornbos is the Director of the Connecticut Office and Senior Attorney for Acadia Center. Bill focuses on advancing policy and regulatory solutions that seek to transform the energy system and move Connecticut towards a climate-safe, sustainable future. Recent work includes advocating for expanded investment in cost-effective energy efficiency for all fuels and analyzing greenhouse gas emissions trends in the Northeast