[Note: This article originally incorrectly stated that Barack Obama won the state of West Virginia in the 2008 presidential election. This has been corrected.] Most of the states that have the longest way to go in terms of improving energy efficiency also lean Republican, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, ACEEE's third edition of its annual state-by-state ranking on the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency policies, indicates that the vast majority of states most-lacking in energy efficiency policy guidance are also so-called "Red States", as measured by their choice in the 2008 presidential election.
States are ranked across six policy areas: utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies; transportation polices; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards.
The states needing the most improvement along with their energy use per capita rank, ACEEE scorecard rank, which candidate won the state in the 2008 presidential election, the party affiliation of their current governor and the party affiliation of their senators are as follows:
Arkansas (15/41): McCain - D - D/D
Missouri (27/41): McCain - D - R/D
Louisiana (3/41): McCain - R - R/D
Georgia (29/44): McCain - R - R/R
Alaska (1/45): McCain - R - R/D
West Virginia (8/45): McCain - D - D/D
Nebraska (16/47): McCain - R - R/D
Alabama (9/48): McCain - R - R/R
Mississippi (12/49): McCain - R - R/R
North Dakota (4/49): McCain - R - D/D
Wyoming (2/51): McCain - D - R/R
Implications of the findings
There are a few important comments that should be made about the ACEEE's bottom grouping of states. First, states are not homogeneous. Just because a state is colored red on a map does not mean that everyone in that state is a Republican, or an energy hog. Second, energy use per capita is not the best indicator to use for comparing consumption because residents in some states have to use more energy than the average American just to keep their houses and places of work comfortable. However, it provides a useful indicator when used along with many.
Finally, despite the seemingly bleak news, the report finds that energy efficiency has risen to a new level of recognition in the U.S. and is becoming a resource that is increasingly recognized for its importance at the state level. As a result, several states (both Blue and Red) have shown marked improvements over their 2008 rankings.
“The most improved states are stepping up their efforts in several ways, such as adopting new building energy codes and setting aggressive new energy savings targets,” said Maggie Eldridge, ACEEE research associate and lead author of the report.
States making strong moves up in the ranks from 2008 to 2009, include Maine (up from 19 to 10); Colorado (up from 24 to 16); Delaware (up from 32 to 20); District of Columbia (up from 30 to a tie for 20); South Dakota (up from 47 to 36); and Tennessee (up from 46 to 38).
The states that are doing the most to implement energy efficiency, according to ACEEE, are: California (1); Massachusetts (2); Connecticut (3); Oregon (4); New York (5); Vermont (6); Washington state (7); Minnesota (8); Rhode Island (9); and Maine (10).
“By embracing a wide range of cost-effective energy efficiency strategies, the leading states are demonstrating that efficiency is their ’first fuel’ to meet energy demands while growing their economies,” said ACEEE's Eldrige.