Energy Efficiency Targets, Spending, and Results Align in New Efficiency Canada Report

The newest report from Efficiency Canada details the efforts of provincial energy efficiency incentive programs while highlighting their lagging goals, expenditures and results as compared with counterpart programs in the United States.

The 34-page report titled Benchmarking Canadian Province and American State Energy Efficiency Program Savings and Spending leverages work by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), who has since 2006 tracked state energy efficiency policies and performance in its annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. According to the new report, “both reports follow a similar approach, collecting annual data from information requests to program administrators and policymakers as well as from public databases, and benchmarking state/provincial performance across a range of comparable metrics.”

Exploring the impacts of COVID-19, the report notes that efficiency spending and electricity savings were both negatively impacted by the pandemic. “However, despite drops in electricity savings and total program spending in both countries between 2018 and 2020, leading US states continue to achieve higher performances than Canadian provinces, particularly in electricity savings and targets.”

Benchmarking electricity savings, “Fifty-seven jurisdictions (47 states, the District of Columbia, and 9 provinces) were included in this metric… Four jurisdictions reported no savings (including one province, Saskatchewan) and were excluded from the comparison.

Analyzing incremental electricity savings achieved in 2020, the report shows Massachusetts and Rhode Island exceeded 2% of sales in savings, with Maryland and Vermont falling just short of 2%. California, Illinois, New York and Michigan all exceeded 1.5%. Savings by jurisdiction fell off after that, with most achieving electricity savings well below 1%.

In some ways this appears to reflect ambition. Discussing program savings targets, the report states that “In 2018… the top 11 American states targeted 1.5% of sales or greater – to as high as 2.7% – while Canada’s top performer, Nova Scotia, ranked 19th overall with a target of 1.1% of sales. All other Canadian provinces set their sights on electricity savings less than 0.8%. In 2020, nine states set targets of 1.5% of sales or greater and an additional ten set targets between 1% and 1.4%.” Continuing, “the highest savings target was in Massachusetts, at 2.7%, and Canada’s highest target was less than half of this level.

In addition to program savings targets and achievements, the report also tracks program spending, noting that “while energy savings metrics allow us to see the direct results of efficiency programs, spending metrics can provide additional insight on energy savings efforts, as well as less easy-to-measure market transformation and enabling policies that may not be captured in savings metrics. These include codes and standards work, innovation or research and development, or public awareness, education and marketing.

Studying 2020 per capita efficiency program spending, Massachusetts outperformed all jurisdictions with spending exceeding CAD 150; Vermont and Rhode Island followed closely behind. Prince Edward Island spent more than all other Provinces, nearly CAD 100 per capita.  Most other jurisdictions spent less than $50.

This comparison continues to show the leadership of states like Massachusetts, Vermont, and California,” the report concludes, “However, both states and provinces might wish to compare themselves across a broader geography. The recent International Energy Efficiency Scorecard used a different and wider set of policy metrics, which ranked the US 10th and Canada 13th. There remain opportunities for improvement in mandatory building performance standards, building codes, vehicle kilometers traveled, and energy use per capita compared to other countries.”

The report is available on Efficiency Canada’s website and includes four useful appendices providing further 2020 jurisdictional information on incremental electricity savings, electricity savings targets, natural gas and non-regulated fuel savings, and per capita energy efficiency program spending.

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