Policy Analysis | December 2014

Southern States' State Energy Plans

Anne Roberts Brody

Typically, a governor or legislature initiates the state energy planning process through an executive order or enabling legislation that requires either a one-time planning event or a cyclical process that ensures revision, review, and evaluation of the plan at regular intervals. Executive orders and legislation generally offer a timeframe for a state energy plan’s development (e.g., three months to one year), as well as an outlook for the plan (e.g., 5, 10, or 20 years). In its 2011 analysis, the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) found that 23 of 39 plans were initiated through state legislation or executive order, which granted authority for the creation of the state energy plan and/or planning process.

The majority of state energy plans are required to be reviewed and updated every two years and are developed within three months to one year.

State energy plans that are required or integrated within state executive and/or legislative policy help give the plan “teeth”, or the appropriate authority and influence, thereby ensuring that the plan is the state's broadly accepted energy framework.

The state energy office typically determines the overarching scope and objectives for the plan. This sets the stage for the energy planning process and the overall purpose for the plan (e.g., diversify the state’s energy portfolio, create jobs, promote the use of in-state energy resources).

A majority ‐ 23 ‐ of the states with an energy plan as of late 2011 relied on the state energy office as the lead in outlining, drafting, and finalizing the plan, according to NASEO’s analysis. Of the 13 states with a team of selected stakeholders, six included the state energy office in that group among other key stakeholders. Five states had plans authored by the governor and two had plans developed by the public utility commission.

A governor may come into leadership with an energy strategy developed during his or her candidacy that could serve as the state energy office’s foundation for a state energy plan. On the other hand, the legislature may determine that an energy plan could help the state address energy prices, supplies, and other changing needs in the energy sector.

For a legislator, the first step is to draft a bill that requires an energy plan or energy planning process. Plans are not intended to produce benefits, they enable them.

The New York State Planning Board – which demonstrates an inclusive planning team, especially from a state government perspective – consists of 13 members led by the president and chief executive officer of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA, the state energy office) and includes the chair of the public service commission; department heads from agriculture, state, labor, homeland security, health, transportation, environmental conservation, and budget; appointees of the governor, speaker of the House, Senate president; and an officer of the independent system operator (non-voting). It is important to include a variety of stake holders from the executive and legislative branches, as well as the private sector. This enables a plan that supports legislative goals and allows the private sector to utilize plans to inform investment decisions.

Budgeting and resources should be considered at the initiation of the process. When a state has required a planning process by legislation or executive order, both of these factors are likely reflected in the authorizing legislation or executive order. If the plan is delivered by a lead agency it is likely that the agency’s budget will include a line item to cover the activities conducted under the energy planning process.

As of 2014, eight of the 15 states in the SLC region had developed state energy plans.


State Energy Plan APSC Sustainable Energy Resources (SER) Action Guide
Date of Current Plan 2010
Authoring Agency Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) as authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly’s creation of the Energy Conservation Act of 1977. The Act authorizes the Commission to direct utilities to promote energy efficiency, energy demand management, and renewable energy resource development, but it is in no way an incursion into the traditional functions or prerogatives of the public utility industry. The Commission is charged to consider alternatives to new power plants, and it is empowered generally to investigate in the public interest.
Status/Summary This plan was created due to an aging energy infrastructure, increasing US energy demands, economic development opportunities, national security and environmental concerns, emerging technologies, and an increasing global competition for natural resources.  The APSC also notes that energy efficiency "is almost invariably the most cost effective means of meeting energy and capacity requirements."


State Energy Plan 2012 Georgia Energy Report
Date of Current Plan 2012
Authoring Agency Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA)
Status/Summary This plan is operational with an update occurring in 2009 and another in 2012.  The energy sector has been an important factor in the state’s prosperity and ability to provide safe and reliable energy, which must be sustained to support a high quality of life. The hurricanes of 2005 and 2008 highlighted Georgia’s dependence on out-of-state, fossil fuel energy resources and the need to ensure Georgia’s energy supply.  Goals of this plan are categorized under topic areas. There are eight (8) topic areas within the plan (1. Energy Reliability, 2. Energy Supply, 3. Energy Demand, 4. Economic Development, 5. Incentives and Program Resources, 6. Energy and the Environment, 7. Energy Education and 8. Future State Energy Planning and Tracking) and each is given its own chapter.  Another objective of the plan is for state facilities to reduce energy consumption by 15% below FY2007 levels by 2020.  In addition and also developed by GEFA, the 2012 Georgia Energy Report includes a detailed profile of energy generation and consumption, and information on initiatives and programs designed to help secure the state's energy future.


State Energy Plan Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky's Future (Governor Steve Beshear's Energy Plan)
Date of Current Plan 2008
Authoring Agency Governor's Office, advisory board (with SEO involvement)
Status/Summary This plan is operational with implementation and on-going planning through the Department for Energy Development and Independence.  Since it is a pragmatic challenge to adopt inherently cleaner, newer energy sources, as well as innovative uses of traditional energy sources, this plan is designed to be a ‘living’ document that serves as a means for the state including the general public, public officials, educators, businesses and industries at all levels.  In addition, it is an evolutionary plan that is not intended to be exhaustive at the outset.  Further, the plan includes a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) whereby 25% of Kentucky’s energy needs are met by 2025.  It also displaces 60% of its reliance on foreign petroleum by utilizing fuels such as those derived from biomass and coal, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and compressed natural gas (CNG).  Lastly, by 2025, it aims to have 50% of coal-based energy facilities equipped with carbon management technologies.


State Energy Plan Energy Works: Mississippi's Energy Roadmap
Date of Current Plan 2012
Authoring Agency Mississippi Energy Policy Institute (MEPI)
Status/Summary This plan is operational with implementation and additional planning efforts through MEPI.  In mid-2009, Governor Haley Barbour announced the creation of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute (MEPI), which was formed with the goal of producing and promoting a long-term coherent strategy for developing energy resources in the state of Mississippi and with promoting policies supporting long-term economic growth for the state through reliable and affordable energy.  The overall objective of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute is to position the state as a global leader in environmentally responsible production and use of energy.   It includes objectives such as the development of policy recommendations that will enhance the energy infrastructure and industry; fostering innovation in energy production and use that will enhance economic vitality; supporting educational initiatives to meet the present and future workforce needs; and communicating Mississippi’s commitment to national leadership through responsible energy production and use.


State Energy Plan Oklahoma First Energy Plan
Date of Current Plan 2011
Authoring Agency Governor's Office
Status/Summary This plan is operational with additional planning efforts through the state energy office. It was developed due to the continued rise in imports of foreign oil and plans to improve, rather than replace, traditional energy. It also positions the state as a model for pragmatic energy policy, by fostering economic development, transitioning transportation fuels, optimizing the existing energy system, and positioning Oklahoma for the future.


State Energy Plan State Energy Plan 2008
Date of Current Plan 2008
Authoring Agency Governor's Competitiveness Council (with SEO involvement)
Status/Summary This plan is operational and was created due to a robust economic environment and population growth, which increased energy needs throughout the state.  This energy plan proposes a road map to guide Texas toward a future with a reliable energy supply that is balanced and competitively priced. In all, this plan provides 37 recommendations.


State Energy Plan The Virginia Energy Plan (VEP)
Date of Current Plan 2010
Authoring Agency Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME)
Status/Summary This plan is operational with implementation and additional planning through DMME and was developed due to an increase in electric rates, and to create more affordable and reliable energy.  Its purpose is to grow the state’s economy, as well as in-state production of energy, with resulting jobs and investments by 20% over the next 10 years.
Created by Mandate Chapters 1 and 2 of Title 67 of the Code of Virginia

West Virginia

State Energy Plan West Virginia Energy Plan 2013-2017
Date of Current Plan 2013
Authoring Agency West Virginia Department of Commerce; Division of Energy
Status/Summary This operational plan, updated every five years, contains several sections. Included are three reports, developed by West Virginia University and Marshall University, with energy market analyses that helped to guide in the development of the energy initiatives. The plan also includes a section of public comments, reflecting general concerns and recommendations of individuals and organizations that are involved in energy issues in the state.
Created by Mandate Chapter 5B, Article 2F