For the second consecutive year, Massachusetts has topped the “State Energy Efficiency Scorecard” produced by the Washington, D.C.-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The Bay State surpassed California last year, based largely on compliance with its Green Communities Act of 2008, which requires utilities to save a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures.
"We are proud to have maintained the number-one spot in the nation because of our continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency,” said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. “Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs and leading the way to a more sustainable energy future for Massachusetts."
Following Massachusetts and California in the top ten are New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota.
“Overall, there are two themes to our findings this year,” said ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel, commenting on the sixth annual results of the study, released on October 3. “First, at a time when Washington is having difficulty getting anything done, the states have stepped up to take the lead. Second, they continue to promote energy efficiency in a bipartisan way – regardless of which political party is in control of state legislatures and governors’ offices.”
The three most improved states are 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 budgets for these programs.
Other states making significant progress included Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – all of which increased budgets for energy efficiency under their statewide energy savings goals
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin commented that smart policies have led to major improvements for her state on the ACEEE scorecard, noting, “Making government smaller, smarter and more efficient is among my top priorities. Energy inefficiency wastes natural resources and tax dollars that could otherwise be used for essential services like education, transportation, and public safety. Thanks to efficiency programs by our state utilities, state tax incentives for more energy-efficient construction, and our state plan to achieve 20 percent energy savings by 2020 among all state agencies and entities, Oklahoma is one of the most-improved states on this year's ACEEE scorecard. With innovative efficiency and conservation policies, Oklahoma is leading the way on energy conservation."
In other good news, the research established that:
Annual savings from all customer-funded energy efficiency programs topped 18 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010, a 40-percent year-over-year increase. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity the state of Wyoming uses each year.
Utility budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency programs rose to nearly $7 billion in 2011, a 27-percent increase over a year earlier. Of this, $5.9 billion went to electric efficiency programs, with the remaining $1.1 billion for natural gas programs.
Nearly half of the states (24) have adopted and adequately funded an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which sets long-term energy savings targets and drives investments in utility-sector energy efficiency programs. The states with the most aggressive savings targets include 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 building construction. Two additional states, Maryland and Illinois, have advanced even further by adopting the most recent and most stringent code for residential construction, the 2012 IECC.
The 10 states most in need of improvement (starting with last) are Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Nebraska.
"We find that more and more states are taking action to improve energy efficiency and move up in our rankings, and it's no secret why they want to accomplish that: energy efficiency is a pragmatic and effective strategy for promoting economic growth, creating jobs and securing environmental benefits,” said Ben Foster, ACEEE senior policy analyst and State Scorecard lead author. “The Scorecard serves as a benchmark that encourages states to continue strengthening their commitment to energy efficiency."
The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard benchmarks all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the policies and programs that encourage the efficient use of energy in many sectors of the economy. The report aims to capture the diversity of efforts related to energy efficiency happening at the state level, and to encourage friendly competition among the states to craft innovative policies and programs that deliver the economic, environmental and energy security benefits of efficiency.
The report examines six of the primary policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and "public benefits" programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power (CHP) policies; state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency; and appliance and equipment standards.
The baseline year against which ACEEE assessed policy and program changes varies by policy category. Policy scores are based on policies in place as of September 2012.
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Edited by Braden Becker