Closing a national "electric productivity gap" could curtail up to 30 percent of current electric power consumption nationwide, according to a report released February 9 by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Assessing the Electric Productivity Gap and the U.S. Efficiency Opportunity.
RMI also released a companion interactive map, which ranks the electric productivity of each of the 50 states, and points out opportunities for more states to adopt the practices of the best-ranked states. Developed to provide an interactive, visual representation of the report's findings, the Web-based tool for policymakers, the electric industry and the media is available at http://ert.rmi.org/cgu/.
RMI's analysis determined that the electric productivity among U.S. states varies dramatically. Electric productivity is a measure of how much gross domestic product is generated for each kilowatt-hour consumed. This finding is extremely significant because if laggard states achieved the electric productivity of the top 10 performing states by adopting best practices for energy efficiency, more than 60 percent of coal-fired generation could be displaced in the country. Continued coal generation has been controversial because of its environmental impact.
According to Natalie Mims, consultant on RMI's Energy and Resources Team, "Closing the electric productivity gap through energy efficiency is the single largest near-term opportunity to immediately reduce electricity use and greenhouse gases, and move the United States forward as a leader in the new clean energy economy."
The electric productivity of top performing states, such as New York, Connecticut, and California, can serve as examples of how to overcome barriers to efficiency practices, regulate utilities, and implement technologies. Lower performing states, like Kentucky and Mississippi, have a huge opportunity to build on the success of higher performing states by closing their electric productivity gap using known and tested technology and policy, the RMI team reported.
The next step, according to RMI, will be to assess how to cost-effectively close the electric productivity gap. The analysis will focus on the impact that efficiency measures can have on existing building stock in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, and whether a combination of these measures will cost-effectively close the electric productivity gap in each state. Existing buildings consume 41 percent of the energy from all sources in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (see http://buildingsdatabook.eren.doe.gov/TableView.aspx?table=1.1.1).
Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, entrepreneurial, nonprofit "think-and-do tank." It fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources to make the world secure, just, profitable, and life-sustaining. For more information, visit www.rmi.org.
RMI's Energy and Resources Team provides expertise in energy technology, markets, and policy by advising clients on how to avoid capital and energy costs, manage risks, increase revenues, by deploying new market technologies, and respond to new market opportunities. You can learn more about the team's work at: http://ert.rmi.org/.