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How efficient is your state?


The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy just released its scorecard of states’ efficiency efforts. If your state is an energy producer, odds are it’s a laggard in this area. If it’s a net energy consumer, it’s more likely an efficiency leader. Find the top 10 and bottom 10 at the bottom of this post.

In the face of growing energy demand, economists and policymakers agree that efficiency is the “first fuel” to consider. Before new coal plants are fired up, nuclear reactors go online or windmills are erected, the cheapest and best energy resource is efficiency. It’s as simple as using today’s energy capacity to serve a few more people tomorrow by having everyone use a fraction less. One key is to do so with as few sacrifices as possible, so customers get the same supply of air conditioning or transportation services, but from devices that use less energy.

The study, available here (free registration required), explains its recipe for these rankings in more detail. Points are awarded for smart policies that range from familiar tactics like appliance standards (think Energy Star) to more complex rules that reward utilities for investment in advanced technologies.

It’s no surprise that energy producing states trail by these measures. Energy tends to be cheaper in these regions, so there’s less incentive to conserve it. There are political factors too. One challenge to making efficiency rules is that energy companies are likely to lobby against them. After all, why would a coal-miner, electric utility or windmill maker want policies that encourage consumers to buy less of their coal, electricity or wind turbines?

Efficiency laggards also tend to be more rural, are located inland, and are politically red. Conversely, states with no major energy players tend be far from energy resources (often coastal), have higher prices, and therefore more likely to encourage efficiency policies. They’re also more urban and politically blue. Here’s how the ranking stacked up:

STATE ENERGY SCORECARD, 2006

……………………………………………………………………..

TOP 10 — 1 Vermont* | 1 Connecticut* | 1 California* | 4 Massachusetts | 5 Oregon | 6 Washington | 7 New York | 8 New Jersey | 9 Rhode Island* | 9 Minnesota*.

……………………………………………………………………..

BOTTOM 11 — 41 Indiana* | 41 Alaska* | 43 Tennessee | 44 Oklahoma | 45 Arkansas | 46 Missouri* | 46 Alabama* | 48 South Dakota | 49 Mississippi* | 49 Wyoming* | 51 North Dakota.

……………………………………………………………………..* Tie


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