Which States are Most Energy Efficient?

Massachusetts leads US states on energy efficiency, eclipsing California, which led for the past four years.

The two states are followed by New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland, in the 2011 ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today. 

US states are continuing their push for greater energy efficiency even during this sour economy, tight state budgets, and the  failure by Congress to adopt a comprehensive energy strategy.

Increasing energy efficiency reduces energy costs, spurs job growth, and benefits the environment.

Which states are the efficiency laggards? North Dakota came in dead last, followed by Wyoming, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri, Alabama, and South Dakota. 

The six most improved states are Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland – which improved enough to make it into the top 10 for the first time.

"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 700,000 MWh of electricity and over $91 million dollars since 2009, and our peak demand program has helped us avoid major blackouts during our record-setting summer heat wave," says Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration.

"Illinois has invested over $600 million in energy efficiency projects over the last four years. 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," says Warren Ribley, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director.

The ACEEE Scorecard documents the following trends:

  • Budgets for electricity efficiency programs rose to $4.5 billion in 2010, up from $3.4 billion in 2009.
  • 29 statesadopted or made significant progress toward adopting the latest efficiency building codes, up from 20 in 2009.
  • 24 states have an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which sets long term energy reduction targets and drives utility investments in efficiency programs.
  • States that adopted Efficiency Standards in 2007-2008 are already moving up in the rankings because of significant energy savings realized.
  • States are improving policies that reduce financial, technical, and regulatory barriers todeployingcombined 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 areahead of the curve in adopting policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled and promoting purchases and manufacture of efficient vehicles. Half of all states still have minimal or no policies toencourage efficiency in the transportation sector.

Why Massachusetts Leads the Nation

Massachusetts has the most aggressive energy efficiency targets in the nation and cites the Green Communities Act as central to its success.

In 2008, Governor Patrick signed the Green Communities Act, a comprehensive energy reform bill that promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy development and the clean energy industry that’s taking root in the state. The state also has a Green Jobs Act and Global Warming Solutions Act.

The law establishes energy efficiency as the state’s ‘first-priority’ resource. Utilities are required to purchase all available energy efficiency improvements that cost less than it does to generate power.

Utilities have to offer rebates and other incentives for customers to upgrade lighting, air conditioning, and industrial equipment to more efficient models, whenever those incentives cost less than generating the electricity it would take to power their older, less-efficient equipment.

Before the program began, existing efficiency programs saved  3 cents per kilowatt-hour versus 9 cents for power generation.


Here’s the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) score card:

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