WASHINGTON — Energy efficiency measures are thriving in state capitals around the U.S., with several states — including Mississippi, Connecticut, Illinois, and West Virginia — taking major steps that moved them up the ranks in the seventh annual edition of the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). For the first time in the history of the State Scorecard, the 2013 ranking of the states is being released with the participation of a U.S. Department of Energy secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz, along with a top elected official of a state, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick.

Available online at http://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard, the State Scorecard shows that the top 10 states for energy efficiency are Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Maryland, and Illinois.

Massachusetts retains the top spot for the third year in a row based on its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act.

In California, requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have led it to identify several strategies for smart growth, keeping the state in a top position at #2.

Connecticut is also closing the gap due to passage of a major energy bill in 2013, and Illinois is making its first appearance in the top 10 this year, reaping the benefits of increased energy savings called for in the state's energy efficiency resource standard.

According to the 2013 State Scorecard, the five states most in need of improvement (starting with dead last) are North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, and Mississippi. However, Mississippi also appears on ACEEE's list of the top five most improved states, revealing an upward trend as more and more states embrace energy efficiency. Last year Mississippi passed comprehensive energy legislation that included energy efficiency as a major component. The bill included provisions setting an energy code for commercial and state-owned buildings. Mississippi is now set to become a regional leader in energy efficiency. West Virginia's score improved due to the state adopting stronger building codes. The other three most improved states in 2013 were Maine, Kansas and Ohio.

“Energy efficiency is a critical tool for cutting harmful carbon emissions and the best way to reduce energy bills for America's families,” said U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz. “We applaud the continued progress in energy efficiency nationwide and stand ready to help states as they make their communities cleaner and more sustainable, while saving taxpayer dollars and fostering greater economic growth.”

"Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in energy efficiency because we have made the choice to shape our future, rather than leave it to chance,” Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick said. “We will continue to focus on policies that create jobs, decrease dependence on imported energy sources and protect our environment by reducing emissions.”

ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel noted that, “In every region we are seeing states embrace energy saving measures with growing enthusiasm. From Massachusetts, which continues to be the pacesetter in the race to cut down energy waste, to Mississippi, which is emerging as a regional star, state governments are proving that smart policy can still cross partisan divides.”

“California continues earning its reputation as an energy leader by instituting the nation's most advanced energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, and for pushing the envelope on ratepayer-funded efficiency programs,” California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister said. “Our standards alone have helped save ratepayers more than $75 billion since 1975, grown California's economy with local jobs, and protected our climate by reducing carbon emissions. ACEEE is providing a valuable service by recognizing energy efficiency leaders that other states can follow. We are proud to be one of the leaders.”

In the seventh edition of the State Scorecard, ACEEE ranks states on their energy efficiency policy and program efforts, and provides recommendations for ways that states can improve their energy efficiency performance in a variety of policy areas. The State Scorecard report serves as a benchmark for state efforts on energy efficiency policies and programs each year, encouraging states to strengthen their efficiency commitments as a pragmatic and effective strategy for promoting economic growth, securing environmental benefits, and increasing their communities' resilience in the face of uncertain energy costs and supplies.

Other key findings

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:

Several states have made concentrated efforts related to energy efficiency. Arkansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania continue to reap the benefits of their energy efficiency resource standards (EERS), leading to substantially greater electricity efficiency investments and savings compared to what ACEEE reported in the 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

A total of 20 states fell in the rankings in the 2013 State Scorecard report, due to both changes in the report's methodology and substantive changes in their performance. Idaho fell the furthest, by nine spots, largely because it did not keep up with peer states in utility efficiency spending and savings. Wisconsin dropped six spots, due to a significant drop in energy savings realized by the state's efficiency program.

Connecticut passed a major energy bill in June 2013, calling for the benchmarking of state buildings, expanding combined heat and power programs, and doubling funding for energy efficiency programs.

The leading states in utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies are Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island. All three of these states have long records of success and continue to raise the bar on the delivery of cost-effective energy efficiency programs and policies.

The leading states in building energy codes and compliance are California, Washington, and Rhode Island. During the past year, seven states adopted the latest iteration of building energy codes.

Methodology

The 2013 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard provides a broad assessment of policies and programs that improve energy efficiency in homes, businesses, industries, and transportation systems. The State Scorecard examines the six policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and “public benefits” programs and policies; transportation polices; building energy codes and compliance; combined heat and power policies; appliance and equipment standards; and state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency.

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 http://aceee.org.