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TribBlog: Texas Drops in Efficiency Rankings

An annual state-by-state ranking of energy efficiency policies, compiled by a Washington-based advocacy group, shows Texas slipping the fastest.

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An annual state-by-state ranking of energy efficiency policies shows Texas slipping the fastest.

Texas lost nine slots and now ranks 32nd among states on a measure of progressive policy-making, according to the report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington-based advocacy group. New Hampshire also lost nine slots. California holds the top spot as most-efficient state, followed by Massachusetts. Mississippi ranks last.

Maggie Molina, a research associate with the group, said that Texas' fall in the rankings mostly reflects inaction at a time when other states are moving aggressively to tighten building codes or persuade residents to change their lightbulbs. State budgets for energy-efficiency projects nearly doubled last year compared with 2007, the report said.

"States that are maintaining ... a level commitment to efficiency may drop in rankings because other states pass them, and I think that's what happened in the Texas example," she said. Several other states in the Southwest — notably New Mexico, Arizona and Utah — leaped ahead in the rankings.

The report did take account of a new state policy put in place in August this year that strengthened energy efficiency requirements for utilities, but was not as tough as many Texas efficiency advocates wanted. It does not, however, include stricter building codes that will take effect in Texas in 2011 and 2012.

The report scored each state in six categories: utility policies, transportation, building codes, combined heat and power, state government initiatives and efficiency requirements for appliances.

Texas excelled in the combined heat and power category, which involves capturing the heat left over from power generation and reusing it, often for industrial purposes. But the state got zeroes on appliance efficiency requirements and transportation. "The policies just aren't on the books to encourage long-term investment in efficient transport systems and reducing consumer energy demand in that sector," Molina said.

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