California, - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions  -  January 5, 2021

California, Massachusetts rank at top of efficiency scorecard, despite Covid setbacks

California was named the top state for energy efficiency targets and initiatives in a study that found that more U.S. states have adopted or advanced new energy-saving targets and vehicle and appliance rules, while Covid-19 has slowed other efficiency efforts.

The 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and identified Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia, in addition to California, as leaders in their respective regions. The scorecard found that many states have set ambitious climate goals since 2018 but this year had to shift their focus to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Among the top-ranking states, California utility regulators approved $45 million in incentives for high-efficiency heat pump water heaters, while Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling for the phase-out of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. California was also lauded for its adoption of net zero building codes and stringent vehicle emissions standards.

“A number of states see that they have to act aggressively now to cut carbon emissions, but others just aren’t acting urgently. We need to see more states follow the leaders here, and quickly,” Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director, said in a statement. “Aggressive state policies combatting climate change are absolutely necessary no matter what gets done in Washington. In this pandemic and recession, policymakers can embrace efficiency efforts to help residents reduce their utility bills and to get more people back to work, all while cutting pollution.”

The second-place position went to Massachusetts, which was recognized for its advanced efforts to integrate and align efficiency rules with electrification and building decarbonization strategies. 

The other top-ranked states in the scorecard were Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Washington, D.C, Minnesota and Oregon. The report looked at five key areas: energy-saving targets, vehicle efficiency, building codes, appliance and equipment standards and state government initiatives.

Lower down the list, Iowa fell from its previous ranking to 36th place due to its 2018 legislation that capped certain efficiency investments, leading to a steep decline in progress in reducing electricity and gas use. At the bottom of the scorecard ranking were Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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