Moving Up In The World

As I noted last year around this time, Rhode Island is doing better every year in energy-efficiency compared to the rest of the country. In the ACEEE’s 2010 State Energy-Efficiency Scorecard, released today, we improved another two spots from last year’s number nine, to SEVEN.

It’s good news that a stalled Congress hasn’t held back state-level progress in areas like building codes, appliance standards, public transit and utility-funded efficiency programs. Still, come on, feds, we could really use a hand!

State Scorecard Map 2010

What did we do right this year? Decoupling legislation got through the General Assembly, and I am guessing that explains our three point gain in utility efficiency programs. We’ll have another half-point when this moves past authorization into implementation. Even as we wait around for that, there’s some good rebates and other resources available through our electric utility now -> What National Grid Can Do For YOU.

I suggest in the coming year we set our sights on some real improvements in our net-metering laws, especially regarding combined heat and power (CHP) – where we have a measly two of five points. We did make headway in the “Interconnection” subcategory – don’t ask me what that means**. A united front improving the legislation that was stalled this year would help us here and also in the State Government bracket (1.5 out of 7?!).

Some movement in Transit is also ripe for the picking – unlike our competition we’ve got inadequate state transit funding, and no high-efficiency vehicle consumer incentives (for those following in the full report, I’m looking at Table 13). That’s four more points there – out of the way, Washington! On guard, Vermont!

So, a round of back-patting is in order, then let’s get back to work.

** Instead,give it a stab yourself. From the full report:

“The most important regulatory policy with respect to CHP is the presence of an interconnection standard that explicitly establishes parameteres and procedures for the interconnection of CHP systems. We relied upon secondary sources – such as the Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE 2010) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s CHP Partnership database (EPA 2010) – as well as primary sources such as public utility commission dockets and interviews with commission staff and utility representatives. Having multiple levels (or tiers) of interconnection is important to CHP deployment because smaller systems are usually offered a faster – and often cheaper – path towards interconnection compared to larger systems. Scaling these transaction costs to project size makes economic sense, because customers with larger projects – and thus larger potential economic gains – often have more incentive to spend time and money to interconnect their more complex systems than do customers with smaller projects facing smaller economic returns. Additionally, interconnection standards that have higher size limits are preferred by CHP developers, as are standards that are based upon widely accepted industry standards, such as the IEEE 1547 standard. Other interconnection practices that are viewed favorably include the applicability to all utilities, not just IOUs; a maximum capacity of 10-20 MW or more; the prohibition of redundant external disconnect switches; and the prohibition of additional insurance requirements. Finally, having clearly delineated procedural steps toward interconnection and easily accessible information about the interconnection process is viewed favorably.”

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