California producers increasingly energy-efficient

Producers in California are becoming more energy-efficient and produce more value for every dollar spent on electricity, says the nonprofit group Next 10.

The study relied on 2012 U.S. Economic Census data.

For every dollar spent on electricity by manufacturers, California generates $59 in manufactured goods, according to the analysis commissioned by Next 10, a nonprofit that explores clean-energy and technology issues. The average is $38 for the rest of the country.

Only Connecticut scored higher in manufacturing productivity per dollar of electricity purchased. California ranked sixth in productivity relative to energy when taking into consideration both electricity and other fuels used to produce heat and power.

“Manufacturers in California are doing better than the rest of the country relative to the energy they spend to make their products,” said F. Noel Perry, co-founder of Next 10. He emphasized that the improvements coincide with state rules and programs designed to foster greater efficiency and cleaner sources of energy.

The study highlighted a paradox of California’s relatively high electricity prices and increasingly strict standards for energy efficiency: Average electric bills tend to be lower than the national average for households and industry.

At the same time, average electricity bills in California’s commercial sector were 23 % higher than the national average. Commercial-sector electricity bills were more expensive in only five other states.

Perry said the study did not take into account the costs to manufacturers of their own energy-related infrastructure.

The most recent surveys of manufacturing energy consumption by the Department of Energy show large reductions in power use and the intensity of power that goes into producing U.S. goods, measuring progress between 2002 and 2010. A study of more recent data through 2014 is under way.

Natural gas prices have been a notable exception to the trend of rising prices for energy sources used by manufacturers, according to the Energy Information Administration.

California’s manufacturing sector is the largest of any state, accounting for about 11 % of economic output.