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Green Building News

Ranking States’ Energy Efficiency Programs

Massachusetts and California earn top honors, while Wyoming and North Dakota bring up the rear

Energy efficiency by the numbers. This map shows the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s fifth annual ranking of states based on their leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation. The map also identifies five groupings of 10 states each: the darker the shade of purple, the higher the ranking of that state’s grouping.
Image Credit: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The fifth edition of the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, announced on October 20, shows that Massachusetts and California essentially switched places, with Massachusetts now in the top spot and California ranked No. 2. But the lines between these distinctions are, happily, pretty thin, because the top two states – and all of the other states ranked in the top 10, for that matter – seem aggressively predisposed to programs that encourage investments in energy efficiency systems and environmentally sound practices.

The day the ACEEE ranking was released, for example, the California Air Resources Board announced that it had unanimously adopted state-administered cap-and-trade regulations, stricter air pollution controls, and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increased energy efficiency will be one of the principal, operative concepts of this program, which will allow utilities to pass on the cost of compliance to ratepayers but also includes a mechanism to prevent price spikes.

Parsing the rankings

In addition to Massachusetts and California, this scorecard’s top 10 includes New York (no change in rank since the 2010 scorecard), Oregon (which shared the No. 3 spot last year), Vermont (no ranking change); Washington State and Rhode Island (which share the No. 5 spot with Vermont); Minnesota and Connecticut (no ranking change in either case); and Top 10 newcomer Maryland, which is one of the six most improved states in the overall ranking.

Also among the most improved over the past year: Michigan, Illinois, and Nebraska, whose utilities have advanced significant energy saving programs, and Alabama and Tennessee, which joined Nebraska in adopting stringent building codes. (Twenty-nine states developed and/or implemented building code to improve energy efficiency in 2011, up from 20 in 2010 and up from 10 in 2009, according to the ACEEE.)

Alabama, the ACEEE noted, also ranked among the 10 states most in need of improvement.

Earning points and offering answers

Many states below the top 10 have been shown impressive leadership in reducing energy use, the ACEEE says. Along with the $4.5 billion states budgeted in 2010 for electricity efficiency programs have come not only ambitious energy saving goals but policy commitments and technical research to support them. The scorecard is intended to not just highlight these advances but provide a “road map for states to advance energy efficiency in residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors.”

Scores are pegged to six policy and performance areas: 1) utility and public benefits programs and policies; 2) transportation policies; 3) building energy codes; 4) combined heat and power; 5) state government initiatives; and 6) appliance efficiency standards. Each state can earn up to 50 points, with point awards weighted to the potential energy saving impact in each area, the ACCEE says. Total scores ranged from 2.5 to 45.5.

The 10 states most in need of improvement are: North Dakota; Wyoming; Mississippi; Kansas; Oklahoma; South Carolina; West Virginia; Missouri; South Dakota; and, as noted above, Alabama. The lineup in this grouping has changed some since 2010, with South Carolina and South Dakota moving onto the list and Louisiana and Nebraska moving off the list and up in the rankings.

Click here to download the full, 120-page report.

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