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States doing the most for a clean energy future

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Smallcreative // Shutterstock

States doing the most for a clean energy future

If the pace of greenhouse gas emissions continues, climate change will endanger people around the world. Within the U.S., wildfires will become larger and more frequent, storms and sea-level rise will transform coasts, and farmers will struggle to grow crops during intense heat waves. Some of these changes have already begun.

While the U.S. faces many of climate change’s biggest threats, it’s also uniquely positioned to do something about it—the U.S. Department of Energy reports that the country emits more carbon dioxide than every other country except China. For many state lawmakers, this is a call to arms. They’ve begun to lower their states’ emissions and infuse their grids with renewable energy. Others have been slow to change. Political disagreements, fear of cost, and other pressing policy issues can take precedence over ensuring a clean energy future.

In order to rank all 50 states and D.C. by their efforts to run on clean energy, Stacker consulted data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) 2018 State Energy Scorecard. ACEEE ranked the states on their local policies in six areas: state government, utilities, transportation, heat and power, building energy efficiency, and appliance standards.

Many states incorporated cleaner energy across the board, despite working under a federal government that has been moving policy in the opposite direction. The Trump Administration has taken steps to roll back federal car emissions standards, for example; meanwhile, states like California have pushed back and implemented or strengthened their own standards. Many states have improved their energy efficiency. Others have built new systems to capture renewable energy, like Rhode Island when it built the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

Every state has room to cut back on its energy waste and transition to renewables—even Massachusetts, the highest-ranking state, which still uses more energy per capita than other states.

You may also like: Cities doing the most for a clean energy future

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Daniel Hoherd // Flickr

#51. Wyoming

- Overall score: 4.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2 (out of 5; 1.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 0 (out of 8; 5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1 (out of 20; 4 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Wyoming is the epitome of coal country. As the nation’s top coal producer, the state’s transition to renewable energy would mean a dramatic change in the way of life for its citizens. Wyoming lawmakers are preventing such a change through laws like the recently passed Senate File 159, which incentivizes coal fire plant owners and potential buyers to keep these plants up and running.

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Steve Oehlenschlager // Shutterstock

#49. North Dakota (tie)

- Overall score: 5.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 0.5 (out of 5; 3 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0 (out of 20; 5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which moves 570,000 barrels of petroleum per day, became famous when protesters on Standing Rock Sioux reservation tried to halt its construction in 2016. This pipeline is just a small part of the state’s petroleum boom: During the past decade, North Dakota has multiplied its petroleum production by more than six times. Not only does the state’s economy rely heavily on this non-renewable energy—the state’s utilities don’t spend any money on electricity efficiency programs, accounting for its low ranking.

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Pixabay

#49. West Virginia (tie)

- Overall score: 5.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 1 (out of 5; 2.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: -0.5 (out of 20; 5.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

From West Virginia’s windy mountains to its rivers, the state has huge renewable energy potential. It remains mostly untapped in favor of coal. The state’s clean energy policies have stagnated too. No energy-efficiency policies have been passed recently, which caused the state’s utilities score to dip below zero.

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Ramblin Rod // Shutterstock

#46. Kansas (tie)

- Overall score: 7.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 1.5 (out of 5; 2 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Kansas gets more than a third of its energy from wind, which is the most of any state. Where it leads on wind, though, it falls behind in other clean energy sectors. For instance, it fails to meet its potential for solar power, which is as great as Florida’s.

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Jdcantin // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Louisiana (tie)

- Overall score: 7.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2.5 (out of 5; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 2 (out of 8; 3 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In Erath, La., 13 natural gas pipelines meet at Henry Hub — the nation’s busiest natural gas center. The pipes carry gas throughout the state and country, establishing Louisiana as a key player in the natural gas industry. Although non-profits rebuilt many energy-efficient buildings after Hurricane Katrina, and companies have begun building large solar farms in the state, it continues to fall behind in clean energy.

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Naparat // Shutterstock

#46. South Dakota (tie)

- Overall score: 7.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 0.5 (out of 5; 3 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 2.5 (out of 20; 2.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 0.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Updating dishwashers, sealing the air space below doors, and switching to LED lights—these types of changes may not seem like a big deal, but they’re how South Dakota has made its biggest strides toward energy efficiency. The state’s utility companies offer rebates and loans to people who make these energy-saving changes. The state lags behind in most other areas, like transportation and utilities.

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T-Town Photo Booth // Flickr

#44. Mississippi (tie)

- Overall score: 8 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2.5 (out of 5; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 1.5 (out of 8; 3.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Although Mississippi houses the largest single-unit power reactor, the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station, the state continues to rely mostly on natural gas. It has cut back on natural gas consumption through a series of energy-saving projects called the Quick Start program, which launched in 2014. Still, this state has a lot of room for improvement.

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Michel Rathwell / Flickr

#44. Nebraska (tie)

- Overall score: 8 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2.5 (out of 5; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 4 (out of 8; 1 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1 (out of 10; 2 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Vast farmlands and extreme weather require a lot of energy, which is why Nebraska is among the top energy consumers in the nation. These features also give the state great potential for wind-powered electricity. So far, the state has made only modest efforts to tap into wind and cut back on energy consumption.

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Max Pixel

#43. Alabama

- Overall score: 9.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3 (out of 5; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0 (out of 20; 5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1 (out of 10; 2 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Alabama’s industry sector makes everything from planes and cars to food and coal, and it all needs to be shipped out to buyers. That’s part of the reason that about a quarter of Alabama’s energy is used for transportation. While the state has passed laws to cut down on freight emissions, there’s room to do better.

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Maj. Jennifer Lovett // U.S. Air Force photo

#41. Alaska (tie)

- Overall score: 10 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 1.5 (out of 8; 3.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1 (out of 20; 4 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

For Alaska’s vast size, it has a small population—but it uses a lot of energy per person. State legislators tackled this problem in 2010 through a law to reduce per-capita energy use 15% by 2020. They never translated this goal into specific regulations, so the state continues to fall short.

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MrRenewables // Wikimedia Commons

#41. South Carolina (tie)

- Overall score: 10 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1 (out of 20; 4 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

South Carolina lags behind by not requiring its businesses and citizens to cut back on energy use. But it’s taken some steps toward a greener future: In May, state legislators passed the Energy Freedom Act, which paves the way for more solar power projects. The bill will make rooftop solar panels more affordable and will speed up the process for getting big solar projects up and running.

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Lance Cpl. Jake McClung // USMC

#40. Indiana

- Overall score: 10.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2 (out of 5; 1.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 2.5 (out of 8; 2.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 3.5 (out of 20; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Indiana had been slowly but steadily improving its energy portfolio until 2014. That’s when then-Gov. Mike Pence ended the key initiative, Energizing Indiana—a series of programs that the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission determined had saved the state energy and money.

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Nagy-Bagoly Arpad // Shutterstock

#39. Oklahoma

- Overall score: 11 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3 (out of 5; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 1.5 (out of 8; 3.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 4.5 (out of 20; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In Oklahoma, electricity and natural gas providers offer a hodgepodge of incentives to help customers up their energy efficiency. These include things like rebates to put better insulation in attics or upgrade to LED lightbulbs. The programs are voluntary, though, and most customers opt out.

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Mr. Bryan Gatchell // U.S. Army

#38. Georgia

- Overall score: 12 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2 (out of 5; 1.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 4.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Georgia underperforms by most energy-efficiency standards, but the state punches above its weight when it comes to transportation. Through the 2012 Complete Streets program, the state invested in bike-friendly streets. People in the state have driven fewer miles in recent years, and many drive electric vehicles.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Montana

- Overall score: 13 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3 (out of 5; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 5 (out of 8; 0 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 3.5 (out of 20; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 0.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Montana pulls energy from several sources. Even though the state has the nation’s largest recoverable coal reserves, it continues to invest in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. It received a low score because it fails to use this energy efficiently.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#36. New Mexico

- Overall score: 13.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 2.5 (out of 8; 2.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 4.5 (out of 20; 0.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In January, New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order vowing to fight climate change and reduce the state’s energy waste. It’s the latest in a tradition of government initiatives aimed at making New Mexico greener; however, the state’s transportation and building policies lag behind.

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Carolyn Franks // Shutterstock

#35. Tennessee

- Overall score: 14 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 3.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

This state is home to the nation’s largest public power corporation: the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA wields a lot of power over the state’s energy use, since it has the capacity to produce more than 90% of its power. That’s why the state takes a big hit any time TVA ends its energy-saving programs, like it did in September 2018, when it pulled back many of its energy-efficiency rebates. The state makes up for some of these losses through its $37 million EmPower TN initiative to make buildings more energy-efficient.

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shuttersv // Shutterstock

#34. Arkansas

- Overall score: 14.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 7 (out of 20; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 1 (out of 10; 2 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Arkansas rises above most other Southeastern states in its energy savings. The state’s utility companies have grown steadily more efficient in recent years thanks to incentive programs. Because these programs are voluntary, many large companies and schools opt out, reducing the state’s overall ranking.

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MoBikeFed // Flickr

#33. Missouri

- Overall score: 15 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 3 (out of 20; 2 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

The Missouri River meets the Mississippi River in this state, making it a hub for transporting products, yet the state has made only modest updates to its land transportation. Through the Complete Streets program, the state has created more bike-, motorcycle-, and pedestrian-friendly streets.

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America's Power // Flickr

#29. Kentucky (tie)

- Overall score: 15.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5 (out of 8; 0 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 3.5 (out of 20; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In Kentucky, tensions simmer between the old coal and new clean energy economies. In July, one of the nation’s largest coal companies, Blackjewel LLC, declared bankruptcy, and its former employees blockaded one of its trains to demand pay. While Kentucky’s transition to clean energy hasn’t always been smooth, energy-saving policies that have passed have proven effective.

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Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

#29. Nevada (tie)

- Overall score: 15.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 5 (out of 20; 0 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 2.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0.5 (out of 3; 0.5 points above national median)

Nevada houses the nation’s fastest-warming city, Las Vegas. This may help explain the state’s recent string of laws and investments to bulk up renewables and reduce overall energy use. One of these laws, SB 150, set energy-savings goals for the state’s utilities and rewards for companies that meet them.

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Michael T Hartman // Shutterstock

#29. Ohio (tie)

- Overall score: 15.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 6 (out of 20; 1 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 1 (out of 10; 2 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Ohio’s legislators pose the biggest obstacle to a clean energy future for the state. In July, they passed a bill that will remove clean energy and efficiency standards and enable bailouts for coal plants. This comes after a couple of years of improvements in energy savings.

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Corey Coyle // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Wisconsin (tie)

- Overall score: 15.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 7 (out of 20; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 0.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In August, Wisconsin’s Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order 38, committing the state to run on only carbon-free sources by the year 2050. Some of Wisconsin’s energy companies say it’s a feasible goal, but Republican legislators in the state have resisted similar plans in the past, and may push back again.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#26. Idaho (tie)

- Overall score: 16 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3 (out of 5; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 5.5 (out of 20; 0.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 1.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Idaho gets more than three-fourths of its energy from renewable sources, which is the second-highest amount in the nation. It also offers financial incentives to people who use energy efficiently, with a special focus on rural areas. The state has room to improve its clean energy reputation in areas like transportation, however.

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Spotlight Solar // Wikimedia Commons

#26. North Carolina (tie)

- Overall score: 16 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 4.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 3 (out of 20; 2 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 3.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In the past decade, North Carolina has far outpaced other Southern states in ramping up its production of solar power. Nationwide, it’s beat out by only two other states. By focusing on efficiency standards and incentive programs, this state could make a lot of progress toward ensuring a clean energy future.

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GPA Photo Archive // Flickr

#26. Virginia (tie)

- Overall score: 16 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6 (out of 8; 1 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0 (out of 4; 1.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 0.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 5 (out of 10; 2 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In 2018, Virginia’s legislature set the state up for cleaner energy by passing the Grid Transformation and Security Act, which will require utility companies to pour money into energy-efficiency programs. Big energy-users in the state can opt out of these types of programs, which drags down the state’s overall score.

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Mariordo // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Texas

- Overall score: 16.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 7 (out of 8; 2 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 1 (out of 20; 4 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 3 (out of 10; 0 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

As the nation’s #1 crude oil producer, Texas’s economy is wrapped up in non-renewable energy. But it has found other ways to move the needle. The state has invested in energy efficiency, clean energy, and has even offered rebates to electric-vehicle customers.

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Max Pixel

#24. Iowa

- Overall score: 17 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 1.5 (out of 5; 2 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 5 (out of 8; 0 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 7 (out of 20; 2 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In 2018, Iowa legislators passed Senate File 2311, which rolled back energy-efficiency programs and made it easier for customers to opt out. These changes are expected to undo some of the state’s progress toward a clean future; however, energy-efficient building codes continue to bolster the state’s score.

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Aaron Gustafson // Flickr

#23. Florida

- Overall score: 17.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 0.5 (out of 4; 1 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 2 (out of 20; 3 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 5.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

The Sunshine State gets relatively little of its energy from solar power. Where it shines is in reducing the amount of energy used for transportation. By providing a steady flow of funding to this area, the state has made improvements to transit systems and has planned its land use to support efficient transportation.

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Roland Balik // U.S. Air Force

#22. Delaware

- Overall score: 18.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5 (out of 8; 0 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 2.5 (out of 20; 2.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 5.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Delaware has a reputation for greening up its energy portfolio. It was an early adopter of the cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions when it joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2009. The state has fallen behind in the ranks due to inconsistent funding for efficient utilities programs.

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PSNH // Flickr

#21. New Hampshire

- Overall score: 19.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 9 (out of 20; 4 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 2 (out of 10; 1 points below national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

New Hampshire gets about a fifth of its energy from renewable sources, but recent efforts to bump up that portion have fallen short. A proposed transmission line to carry hydropower into the state from Canada was recently struck down by the state’s supreme court. Still, the state uses energy-saving programs in its public utilities and invests in renewables.

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paxan_semenov // Shutterstock

#20. Utah

- Overall score: 21 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5 (out of 8; 0 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 7.5 (out of 20; 2.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 3.5 (out of 10; 0.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Utah usually stands out among Southwest states for its energy efficiency but has seen some recent setbacks to building a clean energy portfolio. Both crude oil and coal production increased in 2017 for the first time in three years. In 2018, one of the state’s major utility companies, Rocky Mountain Power, rolled back its energy-efficiency programs.

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PSNH // Flickr

#18. New Jersey (tie)

- Overall score: 21.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 1.5 (out of 5; 2 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 6.5 (out of 20; 1.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 6.5 (out of 10; 3.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In 2018, New Jersey took a big step to set itself up for clean energy—it passed the Renewable Energy bill, which committed the state to get half of its energy from renewables by 2030. It also set aside money to support renewable energy and placed stronger energy-efficiency standards on public utilities.

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DuskyJay // Shutterstock

#18. Pennsylvania (tie)

- Overall score: 21.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3 (out of 5; 0.5 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 7 (out of 8; 2 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2.5 (out of 4; 1 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 3.5 (out of 20; 1.5 points below national median)
- Transportation score: 5.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In January, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order including several policies to offset the state’s contributions to climate change. The law commits the state to cutting back greenhouse gas emissions 80% by the year 2050. It also promises to add more renewable energy to the state’s portfolio and to replace some of the state’s car fleet with electric vehicles.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#17. Arizona

- Overall score: 22 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2.5 (out of 5; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 10.5 (out of 20; 5.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 4.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station pumps out more electricity than anywhere else in the nation. Through energy-efficiency programs, public utilities have managed to save a large proportion of its energy production relative to other states. It could do more to tighten up energy use in public buildings and cars.

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Felix Mizioznikov // Shutterstock

#16. Hawaii

- Overall score: 23 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 2.5 (out of 5; 1 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 4.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 11 (out of 20; 6 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 4 (out of 10; 1 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 1.5 (out of 3; 1.5 points above national median)

Many states have committed to run completely on renewable energy in the coming decades. Hawaii became the first to make such a commitment in 2014, when it promised to meet this goal by 2045. The promise was part of the state’s Clean Energy Initiative, which has been cutting back on energy waste and bolstering green infrastructure for more than a decade.

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PxHere

#14. Colorado (tie)

- Overall score: 25.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1 (out of 4; 0.5 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 8.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 4.5 (out of 10; 1.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 2 (out of 3; 2 points above national median)

Colorado’s legislature pushed out a long list of clean energy legislation early this year. The policies make changes ranging from building more electric vehicle charging stations to tightening energy-efficiency building codes. Through policies like these, the legislature lays the groundwork for a cleaner energy portfolio.

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quiggyt4 //Shutterstock

#14. Maine (tie)

- Overall score: 25.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 3 (out of 8; 2 points below national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 3.5 (out of 4; 2 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 9.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 5.5 (out of 10; 2.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Maine’s residents can access loans, rebates, and other financial incentives to help them cut down on energy waste through a program called Efficiency Maine. The program is Maine’s attempt to reconcile two competing interests: big energy savings goals and a lot of low-income residents. Funding for the program has been limited in recent years, though, which cuts back on possible energy savings.

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robert cicchetti // Shutterstock

#12. District of Columbia (tie)

- Overall score: 27.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 6 (out of 8; 1 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 8.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 8 (out of 10; 5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In 2018, the District of Columbia passed legislation for a Green Bank—a pot of public money used to draw private funders to clean energy projects in the district. For instance, the money can be loaned to a company to retrofit buildings with solar panels. With state funding backing projects, the hope is that investors will add some of their own money to the projects, viewing them as less risky.

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vxla // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Illinois (tie)

- Overall score: 27.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 3.5 (out of 5; 0 points below national median)
- Buildings score: 6 (out of 8; 1 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 3.5 (out of 4; 2 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 9.5 (out of 20; 4.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 5 (out of 10; 2 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In 2016, Illinois passed a major piece of clean energy legislation called the Future Energy Jobs Act. Among the changes the act brought about, it secured money for renewable energy projects and low-income communities and established training for jobs in clean energy. The act was rolled out in 2018, and is now up and running.

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Linda Parton // Shutterstock

#11. Michigan

- Overall score: 28.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4 (out of 5; 0.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 1.5 (out of 4; 0 points below national median)
- Utilities score: 13.5 (out of 20; 8.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 4 (out of 10; 1 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

In Michigan, when someone pays to register their car, the state puts that money back into public transit. It’s part of the Michigan Comprehensive Transportation Fund, which was passed in 1951 and demonstrates the state’s long history of managing its energy use. Modern strategies that boost the state’s ranking include stricter residential building codes and energy-efficiency programs run by gas and electricity companies.

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Terry Kelly // Shutterstock

#10. Maryland

- Overall score: 30 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6 (out of 8; 1 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 4 (out of 4; 2.5 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 8.5 (out of 20; 3.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 7 (out of 10; 4 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Every year, Maryland towns can apply for the state’s Smart Energy Communities Program. If the community shows it has adopted policies to promote energy efficiency or renewable energy, or to reduce petroleum consumption, it is awarded grant money. This is one of several efforts Maryland uses to enhance clean energy throughout the state.

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Suzanna Pratt // Shutterstock

#9. Washington

- Overall score: 31.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2.5 (out of 4; 1 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 10.5 (out of 20; 5.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 7 (out of 10; 4 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 2 (out of 3; 2 points above national median)

Washington is powered by water. Not only is hydropower the state’s greatest source of energy, it also produces a quarter of the nation’s hydroelectricity thanks to its river-woven landscape. This renewable energy source combines with state policies promoting energy conservation in government buildings, utility companies, and transportation to give Washington a high clean energy score.

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Joe Ferrer // Shutterstock

#8. Minnesota

- Overall score: 32 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6 (out of 8; 1 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2.5 (out of 4; 1 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 14.5 (out of 20; 9.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 4 (out of 10; 1 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Minnesota’s state government is on a clean energy trajectory thanks to a series of state programs. Non-profit organizations, local governments, and schools can apply for state loans to update their their buildings or to run an audit to identify potential areas for improving energy use. The state also funds research into new energy-saving technology.

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Portland General Electric // Flickr

#7. Oregon

- Overall score: 35 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2.5 (out of 4; 1 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 12 (out of 20; 7 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 8 (out of 10; 5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 1 (out of 3; 1 points above national median)

In Oregon, if you buy a zero-emission vehicle, the government will pay you back for part of it. The program is one part of major transportation act the state passed in 2017, which uses taxes on things like income and gas to fund projects such as bike lanes, transportation, and those electric vehicle rebates. While Oregon stands out for its green transportation policy, it has also put several efficiency programs in place that bump up its spot in the rankings.

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zhu difeng // Shutterstock

#6. New York

- Overall score: 35.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 4.5 (out of 5; 1 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 3.5 (out of 4; 2 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 12.5 (out of 20; 7.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 8.5 (out of 10; 5.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been directing the state’s attention to clean energy since launching his 2014 Reform the Energy Vision (REV) program. In 2018, he announced lofty goals for the program to further improve the state’s energy efficiency. For example, he has pledged to conserve the equivalent of 1.8 million homes’ energy use by the year 2025.

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Roland Balik // U.S. Air Force

#5. Connecticut

- Overall score: 38 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 7 (out of 8; 2 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2.5 (out of 4; 1 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 15 (out of 20; 10 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 7.5 (out of 10; 4.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 1 (out of 3; 1 points above national median)

Connecticut’s economy runs on little energy relative to most other states. It’s expected to become even more efficient because of new building and fire codes that passed in 2018. These codes tightened energy-efficiency requirements for new homes and commercial buildings.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#4. Vermont

- Overall score: 40.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 2 (out of 4; 0.5 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 18.5 (out of 20; 13.5 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 6.5 (out of 10; 3.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 2 (out of 3; 2 points above national median)

Vermont pioneered an energy-saving program called an Energy Efficiency Utility (EEU) in the year 1999. The program, called Efficiency Vermont, pulls money from utility bills across the state and uses it for energy-saving projects. Since the start of Vermont’s EEU, the state has continued to pass clean energy policy. It recently increased energy standards for appliances—a step that relatively few states have taken.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#3. Rhode Island

- Overall score: 41 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 5.5 (out of 8; 0.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 4 (out of 4; 2.5 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 20 (out of 20; 15 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 6.5 (out of 10; 3.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

The nation’s first offshore wind farm began harnessing gusts off the coast of Rhode Island in 2017. While the state leads the nation in this renewable energy source, most progress within the state has been made through energy-efficiency programs. These programs, carried out mostly by investor-owned utility companies, have put Rhode Island among the top clean energy states.

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David Prasad // Wikimedia Commons

#2. California

- Overall score: 43.5 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 7.5 (out of 8; 2.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 4 (out of 4; 2.5 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 15 (out of 20; 10 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 9 (out of 10; 6 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 3 (out of 3; 3 points above national median)

California is known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to clean energy policy—often involving transportation. It set the first vehicle emissions standards in the nation in 2004 and has been steadily increasing the standards ever since. Meanwhile, other states have followed suit. In 2018, it joined forces with eight other states to speed up the nation’s use of zero-emissions cars.

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U.S. Department of Energy // Flickr

#1. Massachusetts

- Overall score: 44 (out of 50 points)
- State government score: 5 (out of 5; 1.5 points above national median)
- Buildings score: 6.5 (out of 8; 1.5 points above national median)
- Combined heat and power score: 4 (out of 4; 2.5 points above national median)
- Utilities score: 20 (out of 20; 15 points above national median)
- Transportation score: 8.5 (out of 10; 5.5 points above national median)
- Appliance standards score: 0 (out of 3; 0 points below national median)

Massachusetts' soaring renewable energy and efficiency targets have pushed it to the top-ranking spot. Across the board, the state has capped carbon emissions in the power sector, ramped up building codes, and invested in transit. More recently, it has dedicated $220 million to updating the power grid, which is expected to pay off in even more energy savings.

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