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Massachusetts Named Most Energy-Efficient State

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In the five years that the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has ranked states’ efforts at energy efficiency, California has come out on top–until this year.

For the first time, Massachusetts came in at No. 1 on ACEEE’s 2011 State Energy Scorecard, which measures states’ efforts in areas such as utility programs, building and appliance standards, and transportation policies.

Rounding out the list: California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland (which was also cited as a most-improved state).

What put Massachusetts over the top? In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick credited the state’s investment in clean technology and legislation such as the Green Communities Act of 2008, which gave a significant boost to renewable energy.

The report showed some encouraging signs for state efforts on energy efficiency: Despite a weak economy, budgets for electricity efficiency increased in 2010 to $4.5 billion, a boost of more than 30 percent from 2009.

The report was not all congratulatory: The 10 lowest-ranking states were highlighted as well, with North Dakota residing at the very bottom. The ACEEE also noted that more than half of states have “minimal or no policies” to promote efficiency in the transportation sector, such as incentives for buying fuel-efficient vehicles. That’s a huge area of opportunity, considering that cars in the United States account for about 12 percent of global oil consumption.

You can see more about the report and its rankings here.