States Ranked for Energy-Efficiency Efforts - California on Top; Southwest Region Most-Improved
In mid-October, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its fourth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, a report that ranks each state’s efforts in energy efficiency. According to the 2010 scorecard, California remained on top for the fourth year in a row, while states in the Southwest made the most improvement.
According to ACEEE, its scorecard is a comprehensive assessment of the 50 states and the District of Columbia’s policy and programs that aim to improve energy efficiency in American homes, business, industry, and transportation.
During a press event held in October, Maggie Molina, research associate at ACEEE and lead author of the report, discussed how the scorecard is created. The report seeks to provide a detailed analysis of how states are performing across six categories: utility and public benefits programs; transportation; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards. “The states can earn up to 50 points across all these categories,” she explained.
Molina added that ACEEE continues to refine its research methodology each year, and noted that the 2010 report accounts for policies that are in place for 2010 as well as ongoing policies and programs.
TOP 10 STATES
For 2010, the ACEEE scorecard reported that California retained its No. 1 ranking, “outpacing all other states in its level of investment in energy efficiency across all sectors of its economy.”
According to the report, the top 10 states scored at least 27 points out of the possible 50. California earned 45.5 points to remain the top-ranked state. Massachusetts earned 42.5 points, edging closer to California and retaining its No. 2 position for the second year in a row.
Following California and Massachusetts, the states rounding out the top 10 were Oregon, New York, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Maine. All of these states were also ranked in the top 10 in 2009. “These leaders are really setting the pace, raising the bar on energy efficiency, and showing what’s possible in efficiency improvements,” Molina said.
ACEEE particularly noted the four most-improved states: Utah (No. 11), Arizona (No. 18), New Mexico (No. 22), and Alaska (No. 37). According to ACEEE, each of these states climbed at least eight spots since the 2009 rankings. In particular, ACEEE noted that the Southwest region “demonstrated considerable progress from 2009 to 2010.”
Molina added, “Many other states are moving up in the rankings, overall showing an upward trend.” For example, she said, “Twenty-seven states have adopted or will soon adopt what’s called an energy resource standard, which establishes long-term fixed efficiency savings targets. This is double the number of states that had such a policy in 2006.”
However, she noted, “Because there’s an overall upward trend, this means that states that are holding their commitments level may actually be falling in the rankings.” As an example, she pointed to Texas, which has kept its same policies in place, but dropped nine spots in the 2010 scorecard to No. 32.
Molina also pointed to state budgets and energy codes that are driving progress in efficiency. “In 2009, states budgeted $4.3 billion on energy efficiency programs — nearly double that of spending just a few years ago in 2007,” she said. “Also this year, 20 states have either adopted or will soon adopt the latest update of their building energy code.”
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
The states in the bottom tier included Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Dakota. “Our states in the bottom ranking of the scorecard can still do much more,” Molina said.
ACEEE also claimed that state government deficits are having a negative effect on investment in energy efficiency. According to ACEEE, “Some states are raiding energy efficiency program funds to close gaps in budget shortfalls.” The report cites Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and New Jersey as having approved plans to divert money from energy efficiency.
However, Molina added that ACEEE has been hearing more and more examples of states that have used the scorecard as a tool and metric to improve their efforts. ACEEE intends its scorecard to serve as a roadmap for states to follow. And, ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel added, “We have found that our scorecard really inspires action.”
The scorecard homepage is available at www.aceee.org. Residents can look up their home state on the website and read the summary and information about its energy efficiency policy. Web visitors can also compare states side-by-side.
CALIFORNIA EARNS TOP SPOT
California has retained its No. 1 ranking for the fourth year in a row, outpacing all other states in its level of investment in energy efficiency across all sectors of its economy. According to ACEEE, California electric utilities saved approximately 3,043,965 MWh in 2008, an unequaled energy level of savings for one state.
TOP 10 ENERGY-EFFICIENT STATES
4. New York
7. Rhode Island
8. Connecticut (tie)
8. Minnesota (tie)