California no longer most energy efficient in US

California has lost its top slot as the United States’ most energy efficient state, according to new research published last month.

energy efficiency, environmental benefits, energy efficient state, nation’s most energy efficientThe American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) revealed that Massachusetts had ousted the sunshine state as the nation’s most energy efficient, in its annual ranking publication.

ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, now published for the fifth year, showed that behind Massachusetts (first) and California (second), New York (third) and Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island (joint fourth) were leading the way in energy efficiency. North Dakota had the unenviable accolade of being ranked the least energy efficient state in the US.

ACEEE said that despite a stagnant US economy, tough state budgets and Congress’ inability to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy, US states had nevertheless displayed a trend towards increasing energy efficiency.

“Energy efficiency is America’s abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits,” lauded ACEEE’s executive director Steven Nadel. “The message here is that energy efficiency is a pragmatic, bipartisan solution that political leaders from both sides of the aisle can support. As they have over the past decades, states continue to provide the leadership needed to forge an energy-efficient economy, which reduces energy costs, spurs job growth, and benefits the environment,” he added.

Governor of top state Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, put the state’s top position down to investments in innovation and infrastructure.

“Through our Green Communities Act, we set aggressive goals and laid the foundation for greater investment in energy efficiency – and now we are proud to be a model for the nation and world,” Patrick said.

Top marks

In addition to North Dakota, in last place, ACEEE also listed (in ascending order) Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota as those states most in need of energy efficiency improvement.

Despite its placing in the bottom ten, Alabama was also, however, one of the six most improved states, which also included Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, and Tennessee.

The ACEEE scorecard ranks states according to metrics that capture best practices and leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors.

In addition to the rankings, the scorecard also made several insightful findings. ACEEE said that total electrical efficiency program budgets increased to $4.5 billion last year, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. Taking into account natural gas program budgets of $1 billion, this brings last year’s total energy efficiency budgets to around $5.5 billion. It also said that 29 states have either adopted, or made significant progress towards the adoption of, energy-saving home and commercial property building codes, up from 20 states last year and just 10 in 2009.

ACEEE said that while some leading states had significantly pursued the reduction of vehicle miles traveled and the promotion of efficient vehicle purchase and manufacture, there remained a “major gap,” with over half the states having little or no such policy.

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