The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fifth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks all 50 U.S. states for their various energy-efficiency programs and policies.
The report turns 2010's results on their head, dropping California -- which was ranked at number one four years in a row -- and replacing it with Massachusetts, which was a close runner up last year and this year takes the winning pole position by increasing its utility and public benefits efficiency programs and policies by three points.
Some other significant changes in the list include Maryland, which in 2010 ranked 16th, moving up to 10th place; Minnesota and Connecticut changing places at 8th and 9th; and, New York displacing Oregon as the third best state on the Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
Other movers include Iowa, which moved up from 14th to 11th, and Utah, which sank from 15th in 2010 to 17th this year.
Most improved, says ACEEE, are Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama and Maryland -- Michigan for its leadership in energy-efficiency technologies, Illinois for its utility and transportation initiatives, and Nebraska, Tennessee and Alabama for improved building codes.
However, as one reads the various maps and charts, it is clear that energy-efficiency policies have sparked a revolution in the way state and local regulators, and even utility company officials, view energy-efficiency measures; not as spending (which, of course, they are) but as saving energy dollars and the environment.
In that area, at least, most are on the same page, recognizing that electricity not used and gasoline not burnt are the quickest energy-efficiency policies to implement, and the ones that deliver rapid and recognizable returns.
So now that we know which states excelled last year, which ones struggled? Alabama, with a total score of 9 out of a possible 50 (first place Massachusetts has 45.5), has improved – last year it had a mere 3 points, but it remains dismally low overall in the dual arenas of energy and environment.
The Dakotas also seem to be dragging their feet, with North Dakota coming in dead last at 2.5 points. The same is true to a greater or lesser degree for Missouri (8.5), West Virginia (8.5), South Carolina (8), Oklahoma (6.5), Kansas (5.5), Mississippi (4), and Wyoming (3.5).
States are ranked and given points based on their performance in six areas: public and utility programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards.
More good news for the energy efficiency industry: spending by utilities has gone up by $900 million per year every year since 2006. And though this may also be largely self-interest – it’s easier and cheaper to get customers to save power than it is to get the necessary approvals and financing to construct new power plants. Energy efficiency is a area which transcends partisan lines.
Compared to utility participation, however, state-level energy efficiency program spending is stellar, topping out at about $4.5 billion in 2010, based on budgets. And in the building code category, the fact that many states have already met, or exceeded, 2009 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) standards means that high rankings in this area reflect only the best of the best, like California.
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