Governments are in a unique position to advance energy efficiency by providing vision and leadership for their constituents. In addition, public opinion research has consistently shown that respondents want their governments to use energy efficiently, thereby saving taxpayer dollars.
State Energy Plan
In addition to utilities’ and regulatory commissions’ efforts, states have an important role planning for energy development, resources and consumption. Energy plans look at the collective energy markets within the state and identify strategies to ensure that residents and businesses have access to reliable energy supply at reasonable and affordable rates. In doing so, energy plans will often examine energy forecasts and identify strategies for meeting future energy needs, including strategies for reducing the state's dependence on imported foreign fossil fuels, promoting the development of in-state renewable resources, adopting energy saving strategies for state agencies and promoting energy efficiency and conservation by citizens and businesses. Nine of thirteen states in the Midwest have an energy plan. The years in which these plans were produced varies, as does their degree of activeness. Some states have plans that are being updated or new plans under development.
Reduction of State Energy Consumption
States increasingly focus on saving energy in state facilities, which reduces expenditures of tax dollars and allows policymakers to use those dollars for other services. Policymakers often see the benefit of reducing the state's energy consumption through required energy audits, state reduction goals, benchmarking and performance contracting.
Audit: In some states, agencies undertook comprehensive energy audits and performed retrofits. Examples: Iowa, Ohio
Reduction Goals: Some Midwest states have established multi-year energy reduction targets that direct state agencies to reduce their energy use over an extended period. Examples: Illinois, Michigan, Missouri
Benchmarking: Some states require benchmarking, or modeling and comparative tracking of energy use, of state energy consumption. Examples: Minnesota, Wisconsin
Performance Contracting: Just like private-sector organizations, government agencies are examining the use of performance contracting to reduce their energy consumption and energy bills. Under performance contracting, a third party conducts the energy assessment and then finances and implements the improvements, and shares the results with the building owner - in this case, the state agency - the financial savings over the course of the contract. Example: Wisconsin
Energy Efficiency in New State Buildings
Along with reducing energy consumption and saving taxpayer dollars in existing government buildings, state policymakers often see multiple benefits from requiring that new state buildings be built with energy efficiency in mind. A number of Midwestern states have adopted energy efficiency standards or requirements for new government buildings or buildings leased by state agencies. Such policies not only help save taxpayer dollars, they also help the commercial building industry learn how to construct buildings in compliance with higher efficiency standards.