How’s Kansas doing in promoting and implementing energy efficiency in the state?
Not very well, and the situation is getting worse, according to recent state rankings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
Kansas was ranked 39th in the country in 2009 in energy efficiency, down from 38th in 2008 and 34th in 2006. The state was tied with Oklahoma, but ranked better than neighbors Nebraska (47) and Missouri (41).
The rankings are determined by examining six energy efficiency policy areas at the state level: Utility sector, transportation, building codes, heat and power, government initiatives and appliance standards.
Abbie Hodgson, director of communications for the Kansas Corporation Commission, which works on energy policy in Kansas, said she was surprised by Kansas’ low ranking. Development of energy efficient policies makes economic sense, and should be an important goal for Kansas, she said.
“Energy efficiency should always be a priority because the cheapest energy is energy that is not used in the first place,” said Hodgson.
Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said that while he would like to see Kansas ranked higher nationally, changes to energy policy – particularly those that impose energy surcharges on consumers – pose philosophical and economic problems.
“People don’t like to be told what to do. How far should government go to make you reduce your energy consumption?” said Sloan.
He favors incentive-based programs that encourage consumers and businesses to become more energy efficient. But with state budget problems and cuts to education and social services, he said, Kansas needs to prioritize.
“We’re pretty limited in today’s economy,” he said.
But Kansas will be receiving help in improving energy efficiency from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, said Hodgson, including $37 million to establish the Efficiency Kansas loan program, designed to assist Kansans in making energy efficient upgrades to their homes.
For more information about the state rankings, www.aceee.org.