Energy: Efficiency Along the Energy Coast
Louisiana is one of the biggest energy-producing states in the nation, thanks primarily to the massive volumes of oil and natural gas brought in from the Gulf along what some have dubbed “America’s Energy Coast.” But according to a recent study, the state ranks near the bottom for how efficiently it uses energy overall.
The study comes from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Washington, D.C.-based group that each year releases its State Energy Efficiency Scorecard to grade states on their policies and practices. Louisiana ranked No. 40 on this year’s list. Massachusetts was ranked the highest, overtaking California for the first time for that honor. Wyoming came in last.
Louisiana built initiatives and incentives for energy efficiency into some recovery programs after Hurricane Katrina, but otherwise the ACEEE report found that the state has been lacking in official energy efficiency programs.
The group portrays better policies and energy-efficient practices as a de facto source of new energy resources and a way to save money in tough economic times.
“Energy efficiency is America’s abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits,” says ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel. “The message here is that energy efficiency is a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders from both sides of the aisle can support.”
ACEEE also promotes its energy efficiency message as a way to create jobs and spur innovation. For instance, one of the categories it uses for evaluating states is building codes. Nadel points out that making buildings energy-efficient doesn’t just take construction workers and contractors, but also the designers behind new building products, technicians, engineers, manufacturers, installers, energy modelers and IT professionals to develop and deliver the energy-saving materials and systems that go into these buildings.
In its report, the group suggests that low-ranking states like Louisiana could improve their economies and become more competitive by putting a sharper edge on energy efficiency.
“Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs,” says Michael Sciortino, the report’s lead author.