Already reeling economically, California may soon be overtaken by Massachusetts as the greenest state in the union.
California ranked first in a 2009 survey of the most energy-efficient states, with Massachusetts second. In January, however, the Bay State announced the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency standards for utilities.
Despite growing energy demand, Massachusetts aims to cut electricity use by 2.4 percent over the next three years. It will provide utility customers with $1.6 billion in incentives to conserve energy at home, including free energy audits and rebates to purchase more efficient appliances. That’s more on a per person basis than California spends on energy efficiency.
And it’s not just Massachusetts. Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island also have passed mandates for utilities to invest in any energy-saving measures that cost less than traditional energy-supply options. In fact, New England seems to be emerging as the nation’s epicenter of energy efficiency, clean tech innovation and carbon emissions control.
While Congress struggles with a nationwide “cap and trade” system for carbon dioxide, 10 Northeast states launched a regional cap-and-trade program covering all major power plants. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) caps emissions at projected 2009 levels through 2015, when the cap declines annually to reduce emissions 10 percent by 2019.
To examine why, and how, New England has catapulted itself into clean energy leadership, PPI is hosting a conversation in Boston today with Ian A. Bowles, Massachusetts’ secretary for energy and environmental affairs. Boston is also the base for the Clean Energy Council, a regional network of clean tech businesses, analysts and investors.
The event is part of PPI’s E3 Initiative, a coalition of energy and environmental businesses working to develop and drive new policy frameworks to build a clean economy.