To search for model legislation, research, reports, and more, type your area of interest into the search bar above. You can filter your search by state, level of government, document type, and policy area to match the info you need to your unique community’s progressive goals.
On April 30, President Barack Obama signed into law the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, a much pared-down version of a bill that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Rob Portman have been pushing for several years. Several other energy-efficiency bills just underwent hearings in Congress. At the same time, the House Appropriations Committee has just voted to slash federal research on energy efficiency, and several bills to impede efficiency efforts are advancing. Thus it remains to be seen whether the EEIA has broken the logjam on energy-efficiency legislation, and will be followed by a gush of other bills, or is an anomaly in a Congress that is much friendlier to fossil fuels than to clean energy. This column begins with a description of the new enactment. It then discusses the other pending energy-efficiency legislation, and it concludes with a summary of the appropriations actions.
Improving energy efficiency is widely acknowledged as the most economical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the other adverse environmental impacts of fossil use. The United States lacks a comprehensive regulatory program for energy efficiency, although often overlooked are the roles of the state public utility commissions (PUCs). PUCs have long been in charge of setting retail electricity rates and service standards. In recent years, many of them have launched programs and set policies to encourage or require the electric and gas utilities that they regulate to use energy more efficiently or to help their customers do so. This column summarizes the variety of powers and techniques of PUCs to advance energy efficiency, such as the use of energy efficiency targets, utility incentives, shared benefits, on-bill financing, and low-income programs.
Natural gas combustion and the consequential release of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases can have very damaging effects on the environment. Recognizing this, a number of analysts have expressed concern that continued use of natural gas will hamper efforts to address climate change, and called for reductions in gas use. This will require major changes in energy consumption patterns, particularly in the residential and commercial sectors, which currently use over one-quarter of all natural gas consumed in the U.S., primarily for heating and cooking.This paper considers whether and how new technologies can be used to promote more efficient natural gas use in the residential and commercial sectors. The focus is on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), consisting of state-of-the-art meters capable of recording natural gas usage daily or hourly, and transmitting the data to customers in real-time via a wireless network. In addition to this, this paper draws on recent experience with AMI deployment in California, Maryland, and New York to assess how the regulation of local distribution company (LDC) rates affects incentives to invest in AMI.
For decades, federal energy and water efficiency standards have demonstrably saved consumers money, reduced pollution, and increased grid reliability. Recently, however, the political winds have shifted. Immediately upon taking office, the Trump Administration refused to publish in the Federal Register several efficiency standards that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had promulgated in 2016, and has proposed budget cuts to the parts of DOE responsible for administering the appliance and equipment standards program. With the federal advancement of energy efficiency in doubt, leadership on this issue may fall to state and local actors. This white paper examines how the Energy Policy and Conversation Act (“EPCA”), and the DOE regulations promulgated thereunder, prevent states and cities from outlawing the sale or use of inefficient appliances and equipment. It surveys existing state efficiency laws that cover products beyond federal jurisdiction, and discusses several steps states can take to advance appliance and equipment efficiency in the wake of Washington’s inaction.
The Smart Water for Smart Regions initiative offers a blueprint for the responsible and sustainable utilization of water in the Great Lakes states, working with communities to minimize leaks and reduce flooding through cost-effective, coordinated solutions including.
Given the current pushback on responsible climate policy at the federal level, innovative state and local action will be critical if we are to achieve a just transition to a sustainable economy. The Institute for Policy Studies is surveying the array of state and local measures that can accelerate the just transition from an extractive, fossil fueled economy to a clean, regenerative economy. In this study, the Institute for Policy Studies focuses on one set of policies: energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and public buildings. This report examines state and local policies that reduce energy demand by making homes and commercial and government buildings and common household, commercial, and industrial appliances more energy efficient, and requiring electric and gas utilities to provide energy efficiency as a service to their customers, thereby reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
The power sector is responsible for a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the country’s single largest contributor to climate pollution. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released a Clean Power Plan aimed at curbing these emissions, with specific state-by-state goals. Many utilities firms quickly opposed the Obama administration initiative to cut power plant emissions on the grounds that it would require costly investments in clean energy generation. A cheaper, faster route to achieving the Clean Power Plan goals would be to reduce electricity demand through improved energy efficiency. This report calculates how much additional revenue would be available for investment in energy efficiency if utilities paid their fair share of taxes.
Increasing energy efficiency is the most important action that can be taken to combat climate change. There are currently an abundance of legal techniques available at the federal, state and municipal levels that cumulatively could accomplish a great deal in cutting energy use, lowering U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and reducing GHG emissions and the other adverse environmental impacts on energy production. The author points to nine legal techniques by which we can increase energy efficiency: 1)Technology Standards 2)Retrofitting 3)Information 4)System Benefit Charges 5)Urban Density 6)Portfolio Standards 7)Carbon Price 8)Tax and Non-Tax Incentives and 9)Government Procurement. In addition to this, the author lays out six impediments to achieving efficiency: 1)Split Incentives 2)Low Energy Prices 3)Capital Budgeting 4)Capital Stock Turnover 5)Utility Rate Systems and 6)Invisibility of Waste.
Outlines a two‐track process for creating a Chicago Area Building Energy Efficiency System. The first track would identifies funding, including ARRA funds to quickly ramp up existing programs to launch significant weatherization initiatives in appropriate locations around the seven‐county region. The second track would begin designing the network or institution to carry on this work over the long term.
The built environment accounts for approximately half the energy use and carbon footprint of the United States. Lean Buildings reduce energy flows by tapping basic natural heating and cooling techniques and renewable energy sources in ways that are region-specific and climate-sensitive. This paper offers strategies to reduce material and energy consumption, including the use of local and recycled materials, heavy insulation, building orientation, passive solar systems, and dense urban configurations. Issues of energy quantity and quality, energy codes and metrics, as well as building size and configuration, are also discussed.