The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Once again, Massachusetts took the No. 1 spot, followed by California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.
According to the council's scorecard, Mississippi is the state most in need of improvement, followed by North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nebraska.
The three most improved states were Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina. All three states significantly increased their budgets for electric efficiency programs in 2011. Oklahoma put natural gas efficiency programs in place for the first time, and Montana dramatically increased its budget for these programs, according to the ACEEE. Other states making significant progress included Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, all of which increased their budgets for energy efficiency under statewide energy savings goals.
Energy is not a partisan issue. ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel said in a press release that the findings show that energy efficiency is being embraced by both Republicans and Democrats at the state level, and that energy efficiency is a way to extend supply. "While some supply investments will be needed, the truth is that step one should always be energy efficiency, our cheapest, cleanest, and fastest energy resource."
Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts said in the release that his state remains No. 1 because of its continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency. "Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs, and leading the way to a more sustainable energy future."
Ben Foster, an ACEEE senior policy analyst and the lead author of the State Scoreboard study, said in the release that more states are taking action to improve energy efficiency. "It's no secret why they want to accomplish that," he said. "Energy efficiency is a pragmatic and effective strategy for promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and securing environmental benefits."
According to the scorecard, 24 states have adopted and funded an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard program that sets long-term savings targets and drives investments in utility efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets are Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Ten states have adopted energy efficiency codes for new building construction that exceed the IECC 2009 or ASHRAE 90.1-2007 codes for residential and commercial buildings. Two other states, Maryland and Illinois, have advanced even further by adopting the most recent and most stringent code for residential construction.