The report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, (ACEEE), an organisation dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity and environmental protection, found that total US energy intensity (primary energy per unit of GDP) fell 42% between 1970 and 1999. It also reported a 47% drop in carbon emissions intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP) over the same period, which, it says, lowered energy bills for consumers and businesses, cut pollutant emissions, and reduced our dependence on oil imports.

However, according to the report National and State Energy Use and Carbon Emissions Trends, there were large regional disparities in both energy efficiency and carbon emissions, with New York, Hawaii and California ranked the top three performers of all states. Alaska, North Dakota and Louisiana were rated as having the highest energy and carbon emissions intensity between 1970 and 1999.

“The top states cut their energy use per capita about 10-20 percent during 1970-97, while the worst states saw their energy use per capita rise 30-90 percent during this period,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of ACEEE and co-author of the study.

The ACEEE study analysed the main factors that caused dramatic differences among states, including differences in energy prices, degree of urbanisation, presence of energy-intensive industries, and energy efficiency efforts. “While differences in energy prices have the strongest correlation to overall score, the top states have done more to promote energy efficiency than have the low-ranking states,” commented Toru Kubo, co-author of the report. “Therefore, our study recommends policies that states and the federal government could adopt to maintain high rates of decline in energy intensity and curtail growth in carbon emissions in the future.”

Policies recommended include:

  • adopting substantial public benefit funds and renewable portfolio standards to support energy efficiency programs and renewable energy implementation as utility regulatory reform occurs;
  • stimulating the closure of older, inefficient and highly polluting coal-fired power plants, and replacing them with renewable-based power and gas-fired combined cycle power plants;
  • increasing the cogeneration of power and thermal energy by eliminating utility system exit fees, high standby power charges, and “overly burdensome” permitting requirements for cogeneration;
  • enacting stringent residential and commercial building energy codes, and providing greater funding for code education and enforcement;

For copies of National and State Energy Use and Carbon Emissions Trends, contact ACEEE at

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