Back to top Jump to featured resources
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States

Are Utilities or States the Leaders in Renewable Energy and Efficiency?

| Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 7, 2014 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at
applause sign - flickr Princess Theater

A June 2014 study by Ceres highlighted the top electric utilities for renewable energy and efficiency. In an article discussing the findings, Utility Dive suggested that there are “wide disparities […] in the extent to which electric utilities currently deliver renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

To find the source of these disparities, look no further than the state policies governing these “leaders.”


For example, #1 ranked NV Energy (Nevada) is required to meet a 25% renewable energy standard by 2025. Xcel Energy, ranked #2 is required to deliver just over 27% renewable energy no later than 2020 (a weighted average across its service territories in Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, & Wisconsin).*  Pacific Gas & Electric (#3), Sempra Energy (#4), and Edison International (#5) are California’s three investor-owned utilities, all facing a 33% by 2020 renewable energy standard.

State Policy Makes Renewable Energy Leaders Among Utilities

utility RE ranking by state policy ILSR

Five top-ranked utilities, serving five states with ambitious renewable energy policies. Hardly coincidence.

The top utilities for energy efficiency? Four of the five from above, substituting Northeast Utilities for NV Energy. Let’s see how the energy efficiency policies in the states where they operate stack up.


The three California utilities make the top 5 list, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) rates California’s energy efficiency policy #2 in the nation. Northeast Utilities serves primarily Massachusetts and Connecticut customers, ranked #1 and #5 respectively. Xcel Energy may be the only surprise. The weighted average of state energy efficiency policies where it serves is #15. And why didn’t NV Energy make the list? Perhaps because state energy efficiency policy in Nevada ranks #33 according to ACEEE.

State Policy Makes Energy Efficiency Leaders Among Utilities

utility EE ranking by state policy ILSR

Five top-ranked utilities, and at least four in states with ambitious energy efficiency policies. Hardly coincidence here, either.

There’s nothing wrong with applauding electric utilities for advancing toward a more efficient, low-carbon electricity system, but neither should we overlook who’s responsible. It’s state legislators that have forced these energy companies into leadership, and who have received plaudits or penalties at the ballot box.

As for the utilities, there’s no doubt they are competent at complying with the law.

Photo Credit: Princess Theater

This article originally posted at For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Democratic Energy weekly update.

*Of their sales in these 4 states, Xcel sells 42% of their electricity in MN, 38% in CO, 12% in NM, and 8% in WI.

Tags: / / / / / / / / /

About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power. More

Contact John   |   View all articles by John Farrell

  • azaredaniel

    We need a National Feed in Tariff, this petition starts in California. California currently has a Feed in Tariff that does not allow home owners to participate in the State mandated goal of 33% renewable energy by 2020.

    California also does not allow the homeowner to oversize their R.E systems, as of now, your local utility has allowed only 80% homeowner generation from your R.E system.

    California has 2 different Energy policies Net-metering and a Feed in Tariff.

    Net metering the energy policy for homeowners, allow you to bank excess electricity from R.E systems for future credits. The credits you accumulate
    are at the retail rate, and are reviewed at the end of the year. It will be written off with a thank you from the utility and no payment to the homeowner for producing more than what you use.

    Net metering has allowed third party leasing companies to replace one utility with another.

    A California Residential Feed in Tariff would allow homeowners to sell their R.E back to the utility, protecting our communities from grid failures, Natural Disasters, Toxic Natural Gas and Oil Fracking. It would also create a new revenue stream for the Hard Working Taxpaying, Voting, Homeowner.

    “Examples of Net-metering slow down Renewable Energies:
    1. Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) which create de facto caps on the deployment of renewable energies (the Germans do not have any RPSs, their Feed in Tariff has no caps.

    2. Net-metering caps, most states only allow a small percentage of one to two percent of peak load to be net metered.

    3. Third party leasing companies like Solar City, Sun Run, Verango and others fight tooth and nail to protect scarce capacity carve outs (from the States RPSs) so as to bolster their chosen business model.” Bob Tregilus

    No one is fighting for the Hard Working, Taxpaying, Voting, Homeowner, we can change that with a Ca. Residential Feed in Tariff Energy policy that allows everyone to participate. Homeowner’s, Small and Large Businesses, Small and Large farmers, and Industries, have the right to sell Renewable Energy electricity back to the utility.

    We need sustainable and successful energy solutions now and a Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff is sustainable and will help ensure our survival.

    Vote Solar Initiative is a Sierra Club and Solar Leasing Companies platform to ensure that One Utility will take the place of Another through the continued use of Net Metering.

    We need a Policy that will enable Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying Citizens, get a chance to participate in the States goal of 33% Renewable Energy by 2020 through a California Residential Feed in Tariff.

    California, there is enough Residential Solar to power 2.25 San Onofres, couple that with a Commercial Feed in Tariff and we can solve some of these environmental and electrical generating problems.

    This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. Home Owners for a Residential Feed in Tariff, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

    Sign And Share this petition for a California Residential Feed in Tariff.