In order to reap the multiple benefits offered by increased energy efficiency, Governors are actively looking for ways of advancing this cause. According to the United States Department of Energy Research, the country has made great strides in energy efficiency. According to the National Governors Association paper, published in September 2013, the country saw a 10% reduction in energy used in relation to the economic output between 1985 and the year 2004.
States have played, and are still playing, an important role in the drive towards increased efficiency in the energy sector. In 2012, they agreed upon 75 policy actions meant to increase energy efficiency, as described in the paper titled, An Energy Efficiency Primer for Governors.
Governors are pursuing measures to advance energy efficiency in order to cut the states’ expenditure on energy by lowering demand, help consumers lower their energy costs, protect the environment by minimizing emissions, improve the energy system reliability and suspend investment in new power plants.
Governor Neil Abercrombie, from the state of Hawaii, stated that greater energy saving opportunities exists, and that states are looking for ways of increasing efficiency in order to benefit private citizens as well as businesses.
Working with energy regulators, legislators and other interested parties, Governors have taken different actions to advance energy efficiency. Some of these actions include:
- Carrying out energy planning and analysis activities in order to have a better understanding of the states’ energy demands and the issues that affect demand, in order to come up with potential energy saving options and adopt best practices.
- Improving energy efficiency rules and standards such as building benchmarking, appliance standards and more.
- Offering different types of incentives in order to promote higher utility investments geared towards energy efficiency.
- Encouraging the private sector to invest in energy efficiency by coming up with innovative and investment friendly financing and repayment programs such as property assessed clean energy programs, on-bill payment, clean energy bonds and many more.
- Educating individuals and businesses, through information technology, about the different energy saving techniques.
- Collaborating with the private sector and universities in energy saving research and development in order to encourage and lay the groundwork for the next generation of energy saving programs.
Apart from the cost savings made by the states, energy saving initiatives present massive job creation opportunities, through investments in different energy saving services and products. Businesses also enjoy lower energy costs, with the savings transferred to other productive uses.
Despite the many benefits associated with energy efficiency, progress is significantly slowed down due to several challenges. Key among these challenges is the high initial cost of most energy efficiency initiatives. Poor awareness among policy makers and consumers about the benefits has also been a major limitation.
http://www.nga.org offers an in depth analysts of these actions as well as more National Governors Association efforts.