Legislative Paths to Energy Efficiency - The Northeast Saga

January/February 2009
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2009 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 02, 2009
Rising energy costs, climate change, and shifts in utility pricing are driving a new round of energy legislation at the state level. Many states decided to move ahead on new legislation to mitigate the effects of the double whammy of high gasoline prices and increased costs for home heating and electricity. Mid-Atlantic and New England states are particularly vulnerable, with 30%–50% of the homes relying on oil for heating, at a cost of $4 per gallon. At the same time, Northeast states, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, are facing or have experienced sharp rises (30%–70%) in electric rates as rate caps enacted during utility restructuring expire. The 2008 legislative agenda in the Northeast reflects and in some cases goes far beyond programs that have been developed around the country. In Massachusetts, the state government and utilities already have multiple programs to reduce energy costs, particularly electricity costs. In Pennsylvania, very little money was allocated to residential energy efficiency, except for low-income households, until this legislative session. Pennsylvania does have a modest Alternative Energy Portfolio standard enacted in 2004 that requires utilities to purchase 18% of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020. The challenge in all cases has been to keep the focus on ...

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