A sour U.S. economy, tight state budgets, and a failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy have not slowed the growing momentum among U.S. states toward increased energy efficiency, according to the fifth edition of the annual ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released recently by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) during a National Press Club news conference.
The ACEEE Scorecard shows that the top 10 states are: Massachusetts (taking the top position for the first time), California (slipping from the top spot it held for the first four editions of the ACEEE Scorecard), New York; Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland (making its first appearance in the top 10 and also one of the six most improved states in the 2011 ACEEE Scorecard).
The 10 states most in need of improvement (starting with dead last) are: North Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama (also one of the top six most improved states), and South Dakota.
The six most improved states include Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee.
“Energy efficiency is America’s abundant, untapped energy resource and the states continue to press forward to reap its economic and environmental benefits,” said ACEEE 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.”
“Thanks to our investments in innovation and infrastructure, Massachusetts is now leading the nation in energy efficiency,” said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. “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.”
"I am thrilled that Maryland is being recognized as one of the top ten states and one of the most improved states for energy efficiency," said Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. "As a result of Governor O'Malley's vision in establishing one of the nation's most aggressive energy-efficiency goals, Marylanders have already saved over 700,000MWh of electricity and over $91 million since 2009, and our peak demand program has helped us avoid major blackouts during our record-setting summer heat wave.”
“Illinois is a purposeful leader in the area of sustainability, investing more than $600 million in energy efficiency projects over the last four years alone,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley said. “By supporting aggressive policies including the state’s energy efficiency portfolio standard and advanced building industry training and education, we are creating jobs, building more sustainable communities and securing our place in the new energy economy.”
“We are excited that Michigan’s positive action on energy efficiency is being recognized nationally,” said Valerie Brader, the chief energy policy officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The ACEEE report observed that Michigan’s improvement is particularly due to the implementation of energy efficiency programs advanced in state legislation P.A. 295.
The fifth edition of the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard presents a comprehensive ranking of the states based on an array of metrics that capture best practices and recognize leadership in energy efficiency policy and program implementation. The Scorecard benchmarks progress and provides a roadmap for states to advance energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors. A new, diverse set of states has followed a group of leading states by adopting significant energy efficiency policies, which will lead to innovative and effective programs. Tremendous potential remains for energy efficiency savings in all of the states should motivate decision-makers to advance energy efficiency.
“Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs,” said Michael Sciortino, ACEEE senior policy analyst and the report’s lead author. “With even higher energy savings possible, we expect leading states to continue pushing the envelope next year and inspire those at the bottom of the rankings to embrace energy efficiency as a core strategy to gain a competitive advantage by generating cost-savings, promoting technological innovation, and stimulating growth.”
Facing uncertain economic times, states are continuing to use energy efficiency as a key strategy to generate cost-savings, promote technological innovation, and stimulate growth. The ACEEE Scorecard documents the following trends:
- Total budgets for electricity efficiency programs increased to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009. Combined with natural gas program budgets of about $1 billion, total energy efficiency budgets in 2010 equal about $5.5 billion. Given the increasing regulatory commitments to energy efficiency, this growth will likely continue over the next decade.
- Twenty-nine states have either adopted or have made significant progress toward the adoption of the latest energy-saving building codes for homes and commercial properties -- up from twenty in 2010 and ten in 2009.
- States continue to improve policies to reduce financial, technical, and regulatory barriers to adoption and deployment of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which generate electricity and thermal energy in an integrated system. Tremendous potential remains for CHP, particularly in states with heavy industrial and manufacturing bases.
- A group of leading states remains ahead of the curve in adopting policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled and promote the purchase and manufacture of efficient vehicles. A major gap exists, however, as over half the states have minimal or no policies to encourage efficiency in the transportation sector.