The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)  ranked Massachusetts first among all fifty states for energy efficiency. Massachusetts’s implementation of the 2008 Green Communities Act, as well as several additional forward-thinking efficiency laws and programs, contributed to its ranking. ACEEE’s 2011 Scorecard assessed states on six energy efficiency policy areas: utility and public benefits programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state government initiatives, and appliance efficiency standards. The highest ranking states were credited for showing innovative and aggressive policies to promote additional energy efficiency, while other states were recognized for adopting Energy Efficiency Resource Standards and increasing the budgets for ratepayer-funded electricity and natural gas efficiency programs. Overall, ACEEE believes that the states that first adopt energy efficiency technologies will be centers for energy efficiency innovation, job creation, and economic growth.
Massachusetts’s unique approach won it the top ranking, and its Green Communities Act (GCA) touched on many of ACEEE’s ranking areas. Passed in 2008, GCA established an Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, which works with utilities to establish three-year efficiency programs for the state. The first three-year plan’s savings for electricity (2.4% of 2012 sales) and natural gas (1.5% of 2012 sales) are the most aggressive in the nation for energy efficiency and could draw investment of $2.2 billion in efficiency and demand resources in the near future. In the transportation sector, Massachusetts achieves greater efficiency by providing financial incentives to municipalities that follow smart growth principles and encourage development near access to transportation networks. The state’s Department of Transportation also plans to reduce transportation greenhouse gas emission by 7.3% by 2020 and 12.3% by 2035 from 1990 levels through smart growth and incentives for more efficient vehicles.
California, which had ranked first for the last four years, is now ranked second, and Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee, Alabama, and Maryland were among the most improved states. Despite the slow nationwide economic recovery and state-level struggles to balance budgets, energy efficiency programs received increased funding and bipartisan support across the country. The 2011 Scorecard reports that states now budget $4.5 billion for energy efficiency programs, up from $3.4 billion in 2009, and that 24 states now have Energy Efficiency Resource Standards. 29 states also adopted or are making progress in adopting the latest energy-saving building codes for homes and commercial properties, up from 10 states in 2009.