California Leads Nation on Energy Efficiency

Maine saw the most improvement, while South Carolina and Ohio fell the furthest in the ranking of energy efficient states from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The findings from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit research organization, put America’s most populous state at the top of the list because it saves energy “on multiple fronts,” including through its vehicle emissions, appliance and building standards. The authors of the 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard note the Golden State’s low-emissions vehicle regulations – which California’s Air Resources Board boasts as the “most stringent” ever for light and medium-duty vehicles – have been adopted by 17 states and Washington, D.C., just one example of how it’s shepherding the cause of fighting climate change.

The ACEEE team evaluated states within six primary policy areas, including transportation, utilities and government-led initiatives around energy efficiency. Each state was awarded a total of up to 50 points, with scores being informed by responses to data requests sent to state energy officials, public utility commission staff and experts in each policy area. Policy information is current as of July, but the council notes that some performance-based categories are based on the latest available data from 2021 program years.

Besides California and No. 10-ranked Minnesota, states in the Northeast region make up the rest of the top 10. Massachusetts – No. 2 overall – received especially high marks for utility and public benefits, state government initiatives and industrial policies categories. Outgoing Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in August signed into law an act that will spur the state’s offshore wind and solar development in an effort to support its net-zero emissions goals.

The 10 Most Energy-Efficient Areas in the State Scorecard:

1. California
2. Massachusetts
3. New York
4. Vermont
5. Maine
6. Washington, D.C.
7 (tie). Maryland
7 (tie). Rhode Island
9. Connecticut
10. Minnesota

But California still stands out as the main leader among states. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in September signed a sweeping set of climate measures focused on cutting pollution and accelerating the state’s transition to clean energy – part of the state’s overarching goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. California is also the only state that has a greenhouse gas reduction goal targeted at freight emissions, according to the ACEEE.

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