New York State Energy Efficiency

How to Return NY to “Top Three” for Energy Efficiency

by Steve Cowell

New York was once among the top three states–and can be again. Gov. Cuomo has called for ambitious new energy efficiency targets, and New Yorkers are urging the governor to present a statewide EE goal later this month that will help restore New York’s once-held status as a national leader.

Losing Ground: ACEEE Scorecard
Back in 2012, the ACEEE scorecard ranked New York #3 for public and utility programs among all states. By 2017 New York fell to #13. New York’s nose dive was the largest drop of any state for this performance category. See the 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

New York can do so much better on efficiency than it has over the past five years. As stated in the 2016 Synapse Energy Economics report Aiming Higher: Realizing the Full Potential of Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency in New York: The current level of savings “is far below what is possible from a technical and economic standpoint, and also relative to what nearby states are already achieving. Energy efficiency is New York’s most cost-effective resource, and yet the state is at risk of losing out on much of its potential.”

Setting a Strong Target
New York can return to the top 3! Policy influencers and thought leaders are coming together to bring a message to the governor that he should not ignore. In the past few weeks advocates and concerned citizens began ramping up. A Valentine’s Day letter signed by 49 groups requested the Governor to advance “a nation-leading energy efficiency plan that is as ambitious and equitable as possible.” Teach-ins, call-ins and more letters continue to add pressure leading up to Earth Day 2018.

A new 14-page report for NYSERDA by Optimal Energy, Analysis of Energy Efficiency Savings Targets in New York State highlights the opportunity. This analysis concludes that New York can save $7 billion in 12 years with a strong energy efficiency target.

The report points out that New York has been significantly less aggressive than other states and says, “New York has a solid foundation on which to build to ramp up efficiency efforts, including the traditional utility and NYSERDA programs, current plans including recent expansions at some utilities, the potential of the Green Bank to scale energy efficiency, and the overall REV framework and direction.” This report advises moving forward with fuel-neutral goals for best results. We agree this is a sensible course of action for all involved, and urge you to add your voice in support.

What New York Needs Most
We encourage the following:
1. Ensure access to energy efficiency programs that lower energy costs for ALL New Yorkers, especially low-income communities;
2. Explicitly include residential customers in the target (both single-family and multifamily);
3. Require utilities to ramp up energy efficiency programs annually until they equal 3% of electricity sales per year as an initial goal but quickly include natural gas and then add all fuels — as is being achieved in the other leading states; and
4. Require building codes and appliance energy efficiency standards to be updated regularly to reflect advancements in cutting-edge, energy-saving technology.

Let’s keep the pressure on.

–Steve Cowell is President of E4TheFuture