Last week, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its annual ranking of energy-efficient states in the union. You can pat yourself (or your lawmakers) on the back if you live in Massachusetts, California, or New York, which, somewhat unsurprisingly, made the top of the list. But perhaps of more interest are the states that earned the Council’s “most improved” badge of recognition. They’re probably not what you’d expect.
Mississippi, Maine, Kansas, West Virginia, and Ohio all received accolades for the strides the states have made in energy efficiency, though many still have a long way to go. Mississippi, for example, which also ranked on ACEEE’s “most in need of improvement” list, passed laws in 2013 that called for a mandatory energy code in commercial and state-owned buildings. In June, Maine also passed sweeping legislation to fund energy-efficiency programs that had long been neglected. Kansas and West Virginia updated their building codes, and Ohio augmented its utility programs to meet energy-efficiency resource standards (EERS), which “dramatically increased electricity savings,” according to the report.
Meanwhile, the top 10 most energy-efficient states are below:
- New York
- Rhode Island
The ACEEE ranked states based on a comprehensive look at utility policies, transportation, building codes, combined heat and power, appliance standards, and various state government initiatives. California, for example, stood out because the state set model requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while New York is working towards goals for reducing miles traveled in the state by car.
By contrast, North Dakota ranked dead last. It has no statewide mandatory energy codes, and provided zero dollars for an electric efficiency program (similar to Alaska, another major oil-producing state).
That information might not come as a total surprise for a state that burns off so much natural gas from its Bakken shale oil formation that you can see the flares from space. Still, North Dakota might be forced to reckon with its rapid development and outdated energy policies and infrastructure soon. Last month, North Dakota mineral rights-owners filed 10 class-action lawsuits seeking payments for the flared gas lost.