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Massachusetts Again Leads List of Most Energy-Efficient States

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For the second consecutive year, Massachusetts has topped a prominent ranking of states’ energy efficiency efforts.

The 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which is compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, placed California in the No. 2 slot. California had ranked No. 1 in the first four scorecards from the ACEEE before being toppled by Massachusetts last year.

The top ten also includes New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota — the same ten states that made up the top tier in 2011, as well.

The ACEEE measures six primary policy areas thattypically pursue energy efficiency, including utilities, transportation, building codes, heat and power policies, government-led energy-efficiency initiatives, and appliance standards

Massachusetts continues to benefit from the effects of its Green Communities Act of 2008, which encouraged bigger investments in energy efficient programs by requiring utilities to save a growing percentage of energy each yearwith efficiency measures.

“We are proud to have maintained the number one spot in the nation because of our continued focus on innovation and investments in energy efficiency,” said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, in a statement. “Our Green Communities Act is cutting our dependence on imported energy sources, creating jobs, and leading the way to a more sustainable energy future for Massachusetts.”

The states that saw the most improvement last year were Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina — all of which gave their budgets for electric energy efficiency programs a boost in 2011, and saved even more energy from programs they kicked off in 2010 and 2009.

The scorecard also found that annual savings from customer-funded energy efficiency programs in 2010 were roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity the entire state of Wyoming uses each year — a 40 percent increase over a year earlier.

There were 21 states that fell in the rankings, with Maine dropping the furthest, by 13 places, and Nevada by nine. The ACEEE said that was due both to changes in its scoring methodology, and relatively faster progress by competing states.

The ten least efficient states were Nebraska, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Mississippi, which ranked last.North Dakota was ranked last in 2011. The report said small improvements in energy efficiency have a big impact on a state’s rankings, so those that don’t ramp up their efforts will quickly fall behind.

The ACEEE said that even top-ranked states like Massachusetts should continue to make improvements, as no state achieved a perfect score. Among the group’s recommendations were adopting and adequately funding an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, or energy savings target, and putting in place tougher tailpipe emissions standards for cars and trucks, as several of the most energy-efficient states have done.