The state government saved taxpayers $55.3 million in energy costs last year but failed to meet the state's energy efficiency goal as set out by the General Assembly.
North Carolina's Utility Savings Initiative was started in 2003 to reduce energy costs at state government agencies and universities.
The program's goal is to reduce energy costs by 20 percent in 2010 and by 30 percent in 2015.
According to information issued today by the N.C. State Energy Office, the agency that administers the program, North Carolina has achieved a 12 percent savings so far.
That translates to $325 million in reduced energy costs. The state invested $11 million to achieve those savings.
However, North Carolina is expected to make significant progress this year, said State Energy Office spokesman Seth Effron. That's because agencies are using $12 million in federal stimulus money to implement efficiency programs.
"The main reason the state hasn't achieved the 20 percent goal is because there hasn't been funding available to do that," Effron said.
Another factor is that the program adds new buildings every year, which means that the proportion of real estate without conservation upgrades keeps growing.
In 2003-04, the state had met 13 percent of its energy conservation goal. The figured dropped to 12 percent the following year. In 2007-08, the state was as high as 16 percent, before the figure dropped again.
"A lot of the space coming online is energy-intesive space," Effron said. Examples include college dorms and university laboratories.
The State Energy Office provides energy audits, funds demonstration projects and implements conservation projects at state agencies. The program includes 17 state agencies and 21 UNC institutions.