WASHINGTON, DC, October 22, 2009 (ENS) – California is the state doing the most to implement energy efficiency, followed closely by Connecticut, Oregon, New York, and Vermont, according to a new 50-state scorecard on energy efficiency policies, programs, and practices from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, ACEEE.

Issuing the scorecard Wednesday, ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said, “The states continue to be leaders in advancing energy efficiency policies and programs. In fact, this growing and deepening commitment to energy efficiency is so strong that the current recession has not put a dent in the vast majority of state programs.”

The reason states support energy efficiency, said Nadel, is that it is “the only resource that can actually reduce energy consumption while growing the economy – making efficiency the first fuel states can use to balance their energy portfolios.”

California tops the rankings because of programs such as San Francisco Energy Watch, launched in 2007 to help businesses and multifamily building managers or owners in San Francisco lower their energy bills and help the City reduce its impact on the environment.

The program offers free on-site assessments to identity energy savings, new energy efficient equipment and technical services at greatly reduced cost, and expert installations of energy-saving equipment.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, says, “Energy efficiency is a top priority for meeting San Francisco’s environmental goals, I am proud that our city supports and continues to develop innovative ways to reduce consumption and improve standards for the health, well being, and future of San Francisco.”

The 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks states in six categories, also gives high marks to Washington state, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Maine.

Maine was one of several states that is climbing up in the ranks. From 2008 to 2009, Maine moved up from 19 to 10.

Maine Governor John Baldacci said his state has been working towards energy efficiency for years.

“We began by making state government a model in order to show businesses and residents that reducing energy consumption improves our way of life by reducing harmful effects on our environment and our health, while making a significant impact to our bottom line,” said Baldacci.

“We made this commitment in 2003 when the price of oil was $20 a barrel,” he said. Today, oil prices are hovering around $81 a barrel.

“Since then,” Baldacci said, “we’ve made new investments in weatherization, encouraged alternative modes of transportation, and encouraged voluntary alternative work schedules for state employees, and we became the first state to purchase 100 percent of our electricity from zero carbon renewable resources.”

“By embracing a wide range of cost-effective energy efficiency strategies, the leading states are demonstrating that efficiency is their ‘first fuel’ to meet energy demands while growing their economies,” said Maggie Eldridge, ACEEE research associate and lead author of the report.

“States continue to raise the bar with comprehensive strategies to improve efficiency in their buildings, industry, and transportation systems,” Eldridge said. “They are the living laboratories of energy efficiency.”

Colorado moved up from 24 to 16; Delaware is up from 32 to 20; and the District of Columbia moved up from 30 to a tie for 20th place.

“The most improved states are stepping up their efforts in several ways, such as adopting new building energy codes and setting aggressive new energy savings targets,” said Eldridge. “By highlighting these most improved states, we hope to encourage others to step up their efforts to implement energy efficiency as their first-priority resource.”

But there is also a downside to the scorecard. The states that most need to improve are Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Alaska, West Virginia, Nebraska, Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

The 2009 report is ACEEE’s third edition of its annual state-by-state ranking on the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency policies, which aims to recognize leadership among the states and identify best practices.

The scorecard examines six state energy efficiency policy areas: (1) utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies; (2) transportation polices; (3) building energy codes; (4) combined heat and power; (5) state government initiatives; and (6) appliance efficiency standards. States can earn up to 50 possible points in these six policy areas combined.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said, “Investments in greater energy efficiency put people to work now and pay dividends for the future. Every dollar wasted from inefficient energy usage is a dollar that is not put to work getting our economy moving in the right direction.

“Delaware’s jump in this report reflects our commitment to energy efficiency,” said Markell. “We are creating market demand for energy efficiency through new legislation that requires we reduce consumption through efficiency by 15 percent by 2015.”

The Delaware governor said his state has adopted new building codes, made it easier to adopt solar and wind power in residential and commercial settings and created net-metering rates to encourage efficiency and allow people to sell excess power back to the grid.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.