Intelligent Energy

Infographic: How does your state rank on energy efficiency?

Infographic: How does your state rank on energy efficiency?

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The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy releases its 2011 energy efficiency scorecard. Find out what state kicked California out of pole position.


Kudos to Massachusetts, the most efficient state in the Union, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The Bay State supplanted California, which has held the #1 title since the release of the first State Energy Efficiency Scorecard five years ago. The battle came down to just one point in a 50-point ranking system that is based on the states’ energy efficiency policies and their effectiveness. The clincher was the Green Communities Act, passed by Massachusetts in 2008. In addition to policies encouraging renewable energy generation, the legislation had efficiency programs compete in the traditional energy supply market and required utility companies to buy any available energy efficiency improvements that cost less than it would to generate power. Under the law, utilities also give customers rebates for efficiency upgrades—lighting, air conditioning, industrial equipment—when those incentives cost less than generating the power it would take to run their outmoded equipment. In 2008, Massachusetts was #7.

There, there California, ACEEE says you will still reap the worthy consolation prizes of jobs created in efforts to get buildings up to energy code and lower utility bills for your denizens and businesses. With energy efficiency investments throughout the U.S., utilities helped customers save an estimated 13 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and $1.3 billion in 2010.

Steve Nadel, ACEEE executive director, says in a statement:

This mix of states from different geographic regions and political leanings goes to show that energy efficiency isn’t a Democratic, Republican or Tea Party idea – it’s simply a good idea. But those in the business world know this already. Energy efficiency-related businesses, technologies, products and employment opportunities have skyrocketed over the last several years.

According to the report, electric utility investments in energy efficiency nearly doubled in two years, from $2.6 billion in 2008 to $4.6 billion 2010. How each state addressed its energy use across residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors landed it somewhere between first place and North Dakota. But take heart ND, at #51 (the rankings include Washington, DC), there’s nowhere to go but up. For inspiration, the not-so-efficient states can look to those with the most improved performances since last year’s ranking: Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama and Maryland.

William Pentland writes for Forbes:

Although the rankings are obviously designed to shame profligate states into adopting greener policies, it would be a terrible mistake to dismiss the Scorecard as little more than this week’s exercise in environmental propaganda. Indeed, the Scorecard provides a compelling snapshot of the evolving relationship between state regulators, utilities and electricity consumers. These are the pieces of the puzzle upon which America’s future economic prosperity depends.

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Images: ACEEE, Smithsonian Institution

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Melissa Mahony

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Melissa Mahony has written for Scientific American Mind, Audubon Magazine, Plenty Magazine and LiveScience. Formerly, she was an editor at Wildlife Conservation magazine. She holds degrees from Boston College and New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure