​​Mass. again comes in 2d on energy efficiency efforts

FOR THE SECOND year in a row, Massachusetts came in second behind California on a national scorecard of energy efficiency efforts.

Massachusetts earned 44.5 out of a possible 50 points, coming in 2.5 points behind California and 5 points ahead of third place New York. Maine was the most improved state on this year’s list, moving up 11 positions to take the fifth spot in the rankings with 35.5 points, just behind Vermont and two spots ahead of Rhode Island.

South Carolina and Ohio fared poorly in the latest scorecard, falling to the 49th and 44th places, respectively. Both states were docked points for allowing large utility customers to opt out of energy efficiency programs. Ohio’s energy efficiency efforts also suffered because the state’s utilities were not reimbursed for energy efficiency programs, according to the scorecard.

The 2021 scorecard, developed by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, attempts to gauge how states are doing in reducing energy consumption by comparing them in six categories – utility and/or public energy efficiency programs, transportation policies, building energy efficiency policies, state government initiatives, industrial policies, and appliance efficiency standards.

Massachusetts received the maximum score on state government initiatives and industrial policies. It lost 1.5 points each on transportation, building energy efficiency, and appliance efficiency standards and 1 point on its utility programs.

In the transportation sector, states were awarded a point for adopting either a statewide vehicle miles traveled target or specific transportation-specific greenhouse gas reduction target. Massachusetts, which has set a transportation-specific emissions target, was one of nine states to receive a point.

Massachusetts, however, did not receive a point or a half a point for actually reducing vehicle miles traveled over the last decade. Only New York and the District of Columbia received the full point.

“Reducing VMT growth is key to managing transportation energy use, and several states have taken on this challenge by setting VMT reduction targets,” according to the scorecard.

The scorecard for the first time did not take into account in its scoring methodology how much a state’s utilities are spending on electricity energy efficiency programs, focusing instead on incremental energy savings.

The scorecard did continue to track spending, however, and Massachusetts ranked third in terms of spending as a percent of total electricity revenues. 

Nationwide, $5.96 billion was spent on electricity energy efficiency programs in 2021. The media amount spent per state was $64.2 million, or 1.8 percent of total electricity revenues.

Massachusetts spent $661.3 million, or 6.8 percent of statewide electricity revenues. Only California spent more — $745 million – but that total represented only 1.5 percent of its statewide electricity revenues.

New England states accounted for six of the seven top positions in electricity energy efficiency spending. Vermont was tops, spending a total of $64.6 million, or 7.3 percent of statewide electricity revenues. Rhode Island was second with $94.6 million, or 6.9 percent of total electricity revenues.

Massachusetts ranked first in natural gas efficiency program expenditures, spending a total of $330 million, or nearly $209 per customer.

BRUCE MOHL

 

NEW STORIES FROM COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE

Rail equity: Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito say spending $1 billion to build rail links from Boston to Fall River and New Bedford is a matter of equity and fairness. They made their remarks at the opening of a new train station in Freetown. The South Coast Rail line, amid uncertain ridership projections, is expected to open late next year, after Baker leaves office. Read more.

REAL ID delay: The US Department of Homeland Security pushes back the deadline for REAL ID until 2025, meaning regular state driver’s licenses can continue to be used until then to board airplanes and enter federal buildings. Read more.

OPINION

Regional inequities: Amie Shei, the president and CEO of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, says the state is plagued by inequities on transportation, water, and even politics. Read more.

STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Quincy offers a number of benefits to the Massachusett Tribe, including the use of a city-owned building for a community center, changes to the history curriculum in Quincy public schools, and the commissioning of a statute honoring the Three Sisters, reflecting a tribal legend. (Patriot Ledger)

New Bedford is poised to hike salaries for managers and other white-collar city employees, whose wages have lagged behind counterparts in other communities, contributing to the city’s difficulty with recruitment. (New Bedford Light

Preparations are still underway for an immigrant intake center at Devens, with no firm commitment for when it will open. (MassLive)

Amherst is preparing to pay $775,000 for a vacant building on Main Street that would be converted into a homeless shelter and affordable housing. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Hospitals in the state are adding more beds as longer patient stays are straining their capacity. (Boston Globe

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Congress seeks to limit firefighters’ exposure to PFAS toxic chemicals. (Eagle-Tribune)

ELECTIONS

Incoming attorney general Andrea Campbell rolls out a transition team with more than 80 members. (Boston Globe) Joe Battenfeld raises an eyebrow over incoming Campbell’s plans for an inaugural bash that is taking in corporate donations of up to $10,000, suggesting her celebration could be funded by powerful interests she is supposed to oversee in her new role. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The attorney general sues a Salem-based business that accepted a state contract to deliver N95 masks but never delivered them. (Salem News)

Business confidence is rebounding in Massachusetts. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Amazon will pay tuition for its employees to take classes at Quinsigamond Community College. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

The METCO program that lets minority students in Boston attend suburban schools is overhauling its application process, which has long favored families “in the know” about how the program works. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Delta Air Lines and its pilot union have reached a preliminary deal calling for 30 percent raises over the next four years. (CNBC)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Based on oral arguments on Monday, the Supreme Court seems poised to side with a Colorado web designer who wants to turn down same-sex couples who want her to create a wedding website for them. (New York Times

MEDIA

Employees at the New York Times are preparing for a one-day walkout on Thursday. (New York Magazine)