The States With The Best Energy Efficient Efforts
Wondering how your state ranks in energy efficiency efforts compared to other states? The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analyzed the efforts of all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. in 2020.
The report shows which states already made drastic improvements and which still have a long way to go. Here's how each state made out:
Alabama came in 44th place, leaving plenty of room for improvement. While Alabama has shown a strong commitment to strengthening the energy efficiency of its building sector, there's still room for similar efforts to be made in its transportation sector and utilities sector. The state hasn't set appliance standards beyond what's required of the federal government. Alabama's government-led initiatives, such as AlabamaSaves, are examples of how the state continues to implement better energy efficiency efforts.
Coming in at 43rd place, Alaska's biggest holdup is its utility sector. Alaska does support a range of energy efficiency services through loan and grant programs, but despite these programs, the high price of electricity in the state keeps the state from making major improvements.
In 23rd place, Arizona fell four points from its spot in the 2019 scorecard. Arizona's strong suit is its energy efficiency efforts in the utilities sector. The state's Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) has helped it become a regional leader in energy savings. Arizona could improve on its building and transportation standards.
Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky tied for 33rd place. The state is one of the only Southeastern states to have a statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). However, Arkansas has room to improve efficiency by strengthening its building codes and better supporting EV adoption.
California took 1st place in the 2020 scorecard, scoring 43 points out of a possible 50. The state is a leader in setting energy efficiency standards in all sectors, but California's biggest achievement this year was the perfect score it earned in government-led energy efficiency initiatives. California's government offers programs for schools, industry, residential consumers and the public sector.
Colorado and Washington tied for 11th place, moving the state up three places from the previous year's scorecard. The state has made a huge push toward energy efficiency programs, including implementing new appliance and water efficiency standards, strengthening local building energy codes and creating plans to promote electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and adoption.
Connecticut took 7th place in the scorecard, falling just one place from its spot at number 6 the previous year. The state has proved its commitment to energy efficiency efforts, especially in the transportation sector and through state-led initiatives. Connecticut has more EV charging stations per capita than most other states, and the state provides several loans, grants and sales tax exemptions for energy efficiency products.
Sitting at number 20, Delaware has the most room for improvement in its utility sector. Utility savings continue to lag behind much of the Northeast, yet Delaware doesn't have a mandatory energy efficiency resource standard. The state has however improved greatly in both the transportation and building sectors.
District of Columbia
Washington D.C. ranked 8th in the 2020 scorecard, three places higher than the previous year. The District of Columbia has plenty of goals to expand its energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements have been made in all sectors. This year, a new district building energy code was implemented, and there's also a Green Construction Code in place.
Florida and North Carolina tied for 27th place. While Florida has improved in many areas, the biggest hurdle for the state is its utility sector. The state's utilities allocate below-average levels of funding for electricity and natural gas programs, causing low levels of savings.
Sitting in 42nd place, Georgia continues to trail behind the national average for energy efficiency efforts, especially in the utility sector. However, the state's most recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) does call for an increase in funding as well as new programs. These concrete savings goals should help Georgia see savings in its utility sector over time.
Hawaii ranked 14th in the ACEEE's 2020 scorecard. The state's Clean Energy Initiative has helped Hawaii achieve high levels of energy savings, plus the state has a goal of reducing consumption 30% by 2030 through more efficiency efforts.
Idaho, Tennessee, Texas and Montana tied for 29th place. Idaho's utilities continue to report above average levels of savings, and the state has plans to provide 100% clean energy by 2045, which will require continued investments in energy efficiency.
Coming in at number 15, Illinois has ambitious savings goals for its utilities by 2030 and continues to improve on efficiency in the building sector. Illinois also has more EV registrations than most states. COVID seemed to play a part in the state's slowed plans for new climate legislation, but Illinois' goals make it clear it's still focused on energy efficiency.
Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio tied for 37th place, with Indiana rising three places from the previous year's scorecard. Indiana fell behind in utility savings following the 2014 repeal of the state’s energy efficiency standard, which cost utilities and ratepayers millions of dollars annually. The state also has room for improvement in its transportation and government-led initiatives.
The state came in at number 36, falling 13 places from the previous year's ranking. Iowa suffered a huge setback in 2018 when lawmakers passed legislation that halted energy efficiency programs. This caused a major decline in utility savings. The state has room for improvement in its utility, transportation, land use planning and government-led initiatives.
Kansas ranked 47th in the 2020 scorecard. The state's utilities reported well below average levels of savings and investments for energy efficiency programs. Much can be done for the state to improve energy efficiency in its utilities. Kansas also has opportunities for improvement in building energy codes, promoting state-led initiatives, and encouraging efficiency in transportation.
Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas tied for number 33 in the ranking. While the state has been proactive in its building policies and state-led initiatives, there's a lot of room for improvement in its utility and transportation sectors. In fact, Kentucky's utility savings have dropped significantly since 2018.
Louisiana and South Dakota tied for 45th place, and although the state rose three places from the previous year, state policymakers still have a long way to go. The state needs to recommit to expanding funding and efficiency programs. Louisiana has room for improving its energy efficiency efforts in its utility and transportation sectors as well as its business policies and state-led initiatives.
Coming in at number 16, the state's lawmakers produced new legislation in 2019 that should substantially improve energy efficiency efforts in the state. The new Maine Climate Council is currently working to create a Climate Action Plan by the end of the year, and the state set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and achieve 100% clean energy by 2050.
Maryland came in 6th place in the ranking, moving up one position from the previous year. The state has continued to ramp up energy efficiency efforts in all its sectors and is devoting funding toward EV and transportation projects. Maryland is also one of the most proactive states in regularly reviewing and adopting the latest building energy codes.
In 2nd place, Massachusetts continues to advance its energy efficiency efforts. Massachusetts' utilities reported the highest levels of electric savings in the country, and the state also adopted new building regulations that include solar readiness. Massachusetts also has more EV registrations and public charging stations per capita than most states.
Michigan ranked 13th in the 2020 scorecard. The state has consistently worked to improve its energy efficiency initiatives and programs, offering Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and multiple other grant and loan programs for energy efficiency investments. Michigan is also looking to advance vehicle electrification and sustainable transportation policies.
Minnesota and Oregon tied for 9th place. The state's 2007 Next Generation Energy Act has pushed the state to set strong energy efficiency goals. Minnesota also offers Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, and the state has set energy requirements for public buildings and fleets. Several research programs are focused on energy efficiency in the state.
Mississippi, West Virginia and North Dakota tied for 48th place, with the state falling three positions from the previous year. Some utility energy efficiency programs were launched in 2013, but a decision in 2019 replaced the state's energy efficiency rule with an Integrated Resource Planning rule, letting the state fall behind others. Mississippi has room to improve on its utility savings as well as its transportation and building policies.
Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas tied for 33rd place. In 2018 Ameren Missouri's plans to spend more than $200 million over three years on energy efficiency were approved by the state utility regulator. The state Public Service Commission (PCU) has since approved several new programs from Ameren Missouri, helping the state's energy efficiency initiatives move forward. Missouri has opportunities to improve on its transportation energy efficiency.
Montana, Tennessee, Texas and Idaho tied for 29th place, with the state rising seven places from last year. However, Montana's utility savings have reportedly dropped below the national average in recent years. New utility reform legislation did pass in 2019, allowing the state PCU to improve the state's utility savings. While Montana does have a freight plan in place, the state could improve its transportation sector by encouraging efficient transportation systems and infrastructure.
Nebraska ranked 41st in ACEEE's 2020 scorecard. In 2019, the state updated its building energy codes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard. Nebraska's reliance on public power utilities comes with its own unique challenges, but the state does have an opportunity to set long-term efficiency goals. Investing more in efficient transportation systems could also help Nebraska improve its energy efficiency efforts.
Nevada ranked 21st and was the most improved state in the 2020 scorecard. The state's achievements include the governor's signing of AB54, which adopted federal standards into law as a backstop against efforts to roll back light bulb standards. This bill alone is estimated to save Nevadans more than $85 million in electric bills. Nevada adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for residential and commercial buildings, and the state’s environmental agency announced plans to adopt California’s vehicle emission standards. Nevada also set a goal for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, which will play a key role in its energy efficiency efforts.
Coming in at number 18, New Hampshire scored two places higher than it did the previous year. The state established its first-ever energy efficiency resource standard in 2016 and has since proposed three-year plans that would significantly strengthen Hew Hampshire's programs and initiatives. New Hampshire could promote more energy efficient transportation systems and advance vehicle electrification to improve its efforts.
New Jersey came in 17th place and achieved a critical milestone in its efforts to increase energy efficiency under its 2018 Clean Energy Act. The state's public utilities now have five-year that should increase electric and gas savings to some of the highest levels in the nation. New Jersey's governor also released a plan to transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2050.
New Mexico ranked 24th and moved forward on a number of initiatives following the state's Energy Transition Act. The Energy Transition Act commits public utilities to a zero-carbon electricity goal by 2045. New Mexico is also making improvements in its transportation sector, including its adoption of California's standards for tailpipe emissions and zero-emission vehicles.
New York ranked 5th in the 2020 scorecard, with major improvements in its utility energy efficiency. The state has nation-leading annual goals of 3% electric savings and 1.3% natural gas savings. New York also incorporated the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards, significantly improving its building policies.
North Carolina and Florida tied for 27th place. The state's utility savings remain around the national average, however, the state does have a renewable portfolio standard in place that offers credit for energy efficiency. North Carolina is pushing toward sustainable transportation with more EV registrations per capita than other states and a plan to increase the number of registered zero-emission vehicles to at least 80,000 by 2025.
North Dakota, West Virginia and Mississippi tied for 48th place. The state has a lot of room for improvement in its utility sector, as it did not report any spending on electricity efficiency programs and achieved very low levels of utility savings. However, North Dakota does have policies that integrate transportation and land use and a comprehensive freight plan.
Ohio, Oklahoma and Indiana tied for 37th place. The state's utility savings took a major hit in 2019 with the signing of legislation that basically ended the state's energy efficiency goals for 2020. While several bills have been proposed to restore Ohio's energy efficiency resource standards, there's still a long way to go. Ohio also has one of the highest EV registration fees in the United States, making it difficult for its residents to adopt vehicle electrification.
Oklahoma, Ohio and Indiana tied for 37th place. The state has expanded its utility efficiency programs recently, electric savings still remain below the national average. There is no energy efficiency resource standard in the state; increasing the amount of programs and initiatives to help achieve higher energy savings would ramp up Oklahoma's utility efficiency. Oklahoma also has opportunities to strengthen efficiency through its building codes and policies.
Oregon and Minnesota tied for 9th place. The state has reported some of the highest levels of electric savings in the Northwest. Oregon's governor signed a climate executive order which calls for the state to set new appliance standards, accelerate EV adoption and strengthen building energy codes and policies for new residential and commercial construction.
Coming in at number 19, Pennsylvania's electricity savings have remained around the national average, but the state has lowered its annual electric savings from 0.8% to roughly 0.6% for 2021–26. While the state's problem area is its utility sector, it is making moves to encourage long-term utility investment in energy efficiency.
Rhode Island ranked 4th in the 2020 scorecard. Along with the state's already successful programs, Rhode Island continues to look for ways to increase energy efficiency through enhanced incentives and efforts intended to achieve zero-energy buildings and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
South Carolina came in 40th place, the same position as the previous year. The state has room for improvement in multiple areas like its utility, transportation and building policies. South Carolina's energy savings are below the national average, and the state does not have a long-term energy efficiency resource standard. While South Carolina does have a freight plan, more can be done to support public transportation and sustainable land use planning.
South Dakota and Louisiana tied for 45th place. Utility savings in the state remain below the national average. While South Dakota does offer performance incentives and lost revenue adjustment for both electric and gas utilities, the state hasn't adopted a long-term energy savings target. The state has seen a decrease in vehicle miles traveled per capita over the past few years, yet no efforts have been made to encourage efficient transportation systems.
Tennessee, Texas, Idaho and Montana tied for 29th place. The state's EmPower TN initiative has increased its energy efficiency leadership, but Tennessee still has room for improvement in its utility sector. Tennessee has also promoted EV adoption, and there are opportunities for the state to encourage efficient use of transportation fuels.
Texas, Tennessee, Idaho and Montana tied for 29th place. The state lost a lot of its potential for energy savings when large customers opted out of the state's utility efficiency programs, leaving Texas with opportunities to improve in that area. Texas could also increase its savings targets, therefore strengthening its energy efficiency resource standard.
Utah ranked 22nd in the 2020 scorecard. The state has updated its building energy code, pulling Utah forward in that area. Utah has also made efforts to advance vehicle electrification across the state. However, Utah's utility savings dipped around the national average after Rocky Mountain Power scaled back its energy efficiency programs.
Coming in at number 3, Vermont's energy efficiency resource standard is among the strongest in the nation. The state consistently reports energy savings exceeding 2% of sales. The state also adopted national appliance and light bulb standards as well as new building energy standards. Vermont is taking great strides to increase its transportation efficiency by adopting California's Low-Emission Vehicle and Zero-Emission Vehicle programs.
Virginia ranked 25th in the 2020 scorecard. The state passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, making it the first state in the Southeast with a 100% clean electricity goal. Virginia also joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate mitigation measures.
Washington and Colorado tied for 11th place. The state passed a law saying that 100% of Washington's electricity must come from clean energy sources by 2045. Washington has increased its investment in EVs and charging infrastructure, moving the state forward in that area. With high levels of utility savings reported and long-term electricity targets, Washington is taking major steps to increase its energy efficiency efforts.
West Virginia, Mississippi and North Dakota tied for 48th place. The state's investments in utility efficiency and its reported utility savings are among the lowest in the nation. West Virginia has room for improvement in almost all of its sectors, especially utilities and transportation.
Wisconsin ranked 26th in the 2020 scorecard. The state's reported levels of utility savings are around the national average, but Wisconsin does have an energy efficiency resource standard that drives funding. Wisconsin also set a 100% carbon-free electricity goal for 2050.
Wyoming ranked 51st in the 2020 scorecard. The state's energy savings levels remain below the national average, and Wyoming does not have an energy efficiency resource standard. Wyoming hasn't made any moves toward more sustainable transportation systems, and with its high EV registration fee, consumers are less likely to adopt EVs.