Report: N.H. energy efficiency lacking

Not only is New Hampshire the least energy-efficient state in New England, its energy-efficiency ranking also dropped the most nationally from last year, according to a recently released report that ranks states’ energy efficiency policies. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., released the 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks states based on factors such as state government initiatives, appliance efficiency standards, utility and public benefits programs and policies and building energy codes and transportation policies.Every New England state except New Hampshire ranks in the top 10 of the nation’s most energy-efficient states, with Massachusetts coming in second only to California (which claims the top spot for the fourth year running), Vermont in fifth, Rhode Island in seventh, Connecticut tying for eighth and Maine rounding out the list in 10th place. North Dakota came last. While New Hampshire compares not so favorably to the Northeast, the state is still doing slightly better than the national average, ranking 22nd overall.Along with Texas, New Hampshire had the biggest drop in ranking from last year of all the states, falling nine spots from its 13th place ranking in 2009. Other states have been boosting their energy-efficiency policies. The report found a near doubling of state energy efficiency budgets from 2007 spending levels and the adoption or pending adoption by more than half the states of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, which aim to reduce or flatten electric and gas load growth using energy efficiency. Twenty-four states have EERS, seven of which were established in 2009, including Massachusetts, according to the report.New Hampshire is the only New England state without EERS. However, since 2007, the state has had Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, which in New Hampshire will require 23.8 percent of energy sales to come from renewable sources by 2025. Among the high points for the state’s energy-efficiency ranking on the report: a newly amended building code that complies with the International Energy Conservation Code; energy-efficiency programs for state utility customers through NHSaves; and funds for increasing energy efficiency for business, municipalities and residents, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Business Loan and a Municipal Energy Reduction Fund.Among the categories bringing the state’s ranking down are its lack of tailpipe emissions standards or policies for transportation system efficiency. “While steady progress on energy efficiency is evident across most of the country, several leading states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia, have made plans to divert millions of dollars of energy-efficiency funds to balance the budget or reduce deficits, robbing their citizens of future energy savings and a more secure energy future,” notes the report. — KATHLEEN CALLAHAN/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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