At least that was the finding of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in its recently released 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard report.
Massachusetts placed second and Oregon, New York and Vermont round out the top five.
"Governors, state legislators and officials, and citizens increasingly recognize energy efficiency — the kilowatt-hours and gallons of gasoline that we don’t use thanks to improved technologies and practices — as the cheapest, cleanest, and quickest energy resource to deploy," the report's drafters said.
The findings reflect those of a recent report by San Francisco-based Clean Edge Inc., which listed California just ahead of Massachusetts in a study listing the top clean energy states. That study listed innovation in multiple sectors as a key to developing a green economy.
In addition to states taking a leadership role in the energy efficiency movement by undertaking new policies and programs, the ACEEE report found:
- Alaska, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico showed the most improvement from last year's report by increasing investment in utility energy-savings programs, expanding state government initiatives and adopting better building codes.
- State spending of $4.3 billion on energy efficiency in 2009 was about double that of two years earlier.
- Twenty-seven states have adopted or are in the process of adopting energy efficiency resource standards that establish fixed, long-term energy efficiency savings targets. That's double the number four years ago.
- Twenty states have adopted or are in the process of adopting improved building codes that stress energy efficiency.
- California, Massachusetts and Washington have enacted greenhouse gas reduction targets related to transportation.
- The injection of more than $11 billion in federal stimulus funding for state energy efficiency projects has helped create new programs that are saving money and putting people to work.