EQT, DEP take their cases to court over 2012 flowback leak

As good as Pennsylvania has become at producing energy, the state is pretty good at using it, too, according to a new study.

The Keystone State ranks 39th in the country in energy efficiency, according to an analysis released Tuesday by WalletHub.com, a personal finance social website.

Most neighboring states fared better: Ohio ranked 23rd, Maryland finished 25th, New York ranked 2nd, New Jersey ranked 35th and Delaware tied for 15th.

West Virginia finished 42nd in the study.

Vermont turned out to be the most energy-efficient state in the country, while South Carolina is the least energy efficient.

WalletHub used public data to compare home energy efficiency per capita, adjusting for temperature, and car efficiency per driven miles for each of the 48 contiguous states.

Pennsylvania ranked 25th in residential energy efficiency and 42nd in car energy efficiency.

The study found many of the country’s larger states struggle with vehicular efficiency — Texas ranked 44th, consuming about 17 billion gallons of gas each year; Montana ranked 39th; and North Dakota ranked 48th.

“That’s the area that surprised us the most,” WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez said.

Some large states performed well with fuel efficiency, particularly California (fifth) and Florida (first) — a testament to investments those states made in carpool lanes and fuel-efficient vehicle programs. Ms. Gonzalez said some of the poorer-performing states could learn from what California and Florida have done to reduce fuel consumption.

Utah ranked first in terms of residential energy efficiency. Louisiana finished last.

Pennsylvania has many older homes, and they often can be challenging to make energy efficient. Large-scale retrofits are costly, and residents typically avoid those and deal with energy loss.

But Nina Baird, an adjunct professor in the school of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, said there are steps homeowners can take to reduce energy loss.

“Insulation is probably one of the most cost-effective things someone can do,” Ms. Baird said. She recommended homeowners check the insulation under their roofs, in their attics, in their walls and around their foundation.

Pennsylvania has taken strides to reduce residential energy use, most recently by expanding its Keystone HELP energy-efficient loan program. Launched in 2006, the program has distributed more than 13,000 loans and funded more than $100 million worth of energy-efficient projects. The state recently sold a bulk of those loans to a third party to fund an expansion of the program.

The WalletHub study noted that funding energy-efficient projects is often the biggest barrier to realizing energy savings.

If there is another silver lining for Pennsylvania, it’s this: The state ranks seventh in the nation in the cost of energy, buoyed, no doubt, by Marcellus Shale gas. So while Pennsylvanians use more energy than their peers, they are paying less for it.

Colorado has the least expensive energy, and Mississippi has the most expensive energy, according to the study.

There is good news for all energy consumers — the Energy Information Administration released its winter fuel forecast Tuesday, and the agency expects winter fuel costs will be lower this year than last year. The EIA predicts lower demand will help consumers realize savings of 2 percent to 5 percent for natural gas, 15 percent for heating oil and 11 percent for propane.

While the Energy Information Administration predicts people will save money by using less natural gas, the cost of that fuel is expected to increase.

Energy cost, efficiency: no link shown

Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1969 and Twitter

via EQT, DEP take their cases to court over 2012 flowback leak.