Oklahoma joins Montana and South Carolina as states that are most improved in energy efficiency, according to new rankings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, or ACEEE. The Sooner State jumped eight spots to 39th among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, up from 47th in last year's ranking by the energy-efficiency organization.
While the most improved status is an accomplishment, some experts say there is still more progress to be made.
Ben Foster, senior policy analyst with the Washington, D.C.- based American ACEEE, said that updated building codes and Gov. Mary Fallin's energy plan, which includes an effort to reduce energy use in state buildings, helped increase Oklahoma's score from the previous year. Senate Bill 1096 directs state agencies and schools to become 20 percent more energy efficient by the year 2020.
"These changes signal Oklahoma, and Gov. Fallin in particular, are enthusiastic about moving forward and taking advantage of the benefits of energy efficiency, to reduce waste, both in natural resources and financial resources," Foster said.
The annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard analyzes policies and programs such as utilities initiatives that encourage high- efficiency appliances, building energy codes, state government policy on energy efficiency and combined heat and power policies. Data comes from 2010 and 2011, the most recent years available.
Oklahoma's ranking increased significantly in part because of the programs utilities Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Gas and Electric implemented with automated electric meters, and more natural gas electric generation.
Whitney Pearson, organizer with the state chapter of the Sierra Club, said she is looking forward to working with the state in being more aggressive to save Oklahomans money and reduce the need for more new energy capacity. …