American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released their sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard on Oct. 3, placing Indiana as the 33rd most energy efficient state in the nation and leaving the Hoosier state at the bottom half of the scorecard. For anyone concerned with Indiana’s less than median score, there is hope: ACEEE observes a trend between the highest ranking states and the most improved ones, namely increased government funding and expanded efficiency initiatives. The ACEEE scorecard report also notes that states continue to move towards energy efficiency initiatives despite which political party controls the state legislature and governors’ office. With elections fast approaching, the key to raising Indiana’s rank for next year may lie in electing the party most willing to increasing funding for energy efficiency programs and initiatives.
Available online the ACEEE State Scorecard discloses the 10 energy efficient states with Massachusetts holding the top spot for the second year in the row. California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota follow closely behind.
The 10 states in need of the most improvement are Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nebraska.
Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina were among the three most improved states. Each of these three states increased their budgets for electric efficiency programs substantially in 2011. Oklahoma initiated programs for natural gas efficiency in 2011 and Montana significantly increased their budget for similar programs. Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania all increased their budgets for statewide energy savings goals and saw their rankings climb.
ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said, “These findings show that energy efficiency is being embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike at the state level. That nonpartisan status is crucial because too many conversations about U.S. energy policy begin with the false premise that the only way to safeguard our reliable energy future is to expand our 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. Energy efficiency improvements help businesses, governments, and consumers meet their needs by using less energy, saving them money, driving investment across all sectors of the economy, creating much-needed jobs, and reducing environmental impacts.”
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin noted that efficient state policies have contributed to significant improvements for Oklahoma on the scorecard. Gov. Fallin said, “As governor of Oklahoma, 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.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick notes, “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. 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.”
ACEEE Senior Policy Analyst and State Scorecard lead author Ben Foster said, “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. The Scorecard serves as a benchmark that encourages states to continue strengthening their commitment to energy efficiency.”
- Massachusetts continues to hold the top spot in the State Scorecard rankings, overtaking California last year. This retention is based largely on Massachusetts continued dedication to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008. The Act spurred larger investments in energy efficiency programs by requiring utilities to save a percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures.
- Customer-funded energy efficiency programs saved over 18 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2010, which was a 40 percent increase from 2009. This is more or less equivalent to the amount of electricity Wyoming consumes every year.
- Budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency program increased 27 percent in 2011 to almost $7 billion. $5.9 went to electric efficiency programs and $1.1 billion for natural gas programs.
- 24 of the states have implemented an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) to set long-term energy savings goals and garners investments for utility-sector energy efficiency programs. Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are among the states with the most aggressive energy savings goals.
- 10 of the states effected energy efficiency codes for new residential and commercial building constructions that surpass the IECC 2009 or ASHRAE 90.1-2007. Maryland and Illinois have exceeded these standards by adopting the strictest code for residential constructions, the 2012 IECC.
The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in accordance with policies and programs that support and encourage energy efficiency in different sectors of the economy. The rankings intend to illustrate the multitude of efforts to improve energy efficiency at the state level. The rankings also intend to promote a friendly competition amongst the states to generate new policies and programs to deliver economic, environmental, and energy security benefits.
The rankings and subsequent report survey six policy areas through which states tend to practice energy efficiency: utility and public benefits programs and policies; construction energy codes, transportation policies, government-led initiatives, combined heat and power (CHP) policies, and appliances and equipment standards. The standards with which ACEEE evaluates policy and program changes is based on the policy category. All policy scores are based on what policies a state has in place as of September 2012.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit the ACEEE website.