Iowa drops 13 spots in energy efficiency rankings

By: - December 17, 2020 9:00 am

Smart thermostats are part of some energy efficiency programs. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

Iowa dropped 13 spots in a national ranking of states’ energy efficiency efforts, largely due to legislation that scaled back a state program, an interest group reported.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy reported that Iowa had the biggest drop in this year’s rankings and now sits at 36th among the states. The group attributed the slide to 2018 legislation, Senate File 2311, that “capped certain efficiency investments, leading to a steep decline in progress in reducing electricity and gas use.” 

The Iowa Environmental Council has called Senate File 2311 “a bad bill” and continues to lobby for better energy efficiency programs.

Another bill in 2019, Senate File 638, “placed additional restrictions on programs,” ACEEE reported.

The nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., promotes energy efficiency and its economic and environmental benefits. 

The top states in the ranking were California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia. On the bottom were Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. 

Iowa now allows customers to opt out of paying for efficiency programs that pass a cost-effectiveness test, ACEEE said. The state doesn’t have performance incentives for utilities, the group added.

Iowa has not completed a baseline study of buildings’ compliance with energy efficiency standards since 2011 and has yet to update conservation codes since adopting the 2012 version, the group added.

ACEEE noted that Iowa adopted a new Energy Plan in 2016 that includes strategies for increasing building efficiencies. That document called for electrical grid modernization, alternative-fuel vehicles, energy produced with biomass, natural gas service expansions and research and development, among other initiatives. Work on those goals continues.

Iowa scored 12.5 points out of 50 in the latest ACEEE analysis, down six points from last year. The organization ranks states based on policies for utility and public benefits; transportation; state government initiatives, and building and appliance efficiencies. 

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.