WASHINGTON — Gov. Mary Fallin said here Wednesday that a concerted effort to increase energy efficiency in state government helped Oklahoma raise its score enough in an annual ranking to be named one of the most improved.
Speaking at a news conference hosted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the governor said she had been given the organization's previous report and wasn't happy with the ranking.
“One area that our state had fallen behind (in) was energy efficiency and energy conservation,” she said. “And when I became governor a year ago, I was given a copy of ACEEE's report and I saw where we were ranked 47th in the nation. And I said, ‘Wait, we're too good a state to be ranked 47th in the nation and we're going to improve that.'”
In the rankings released Wednesday, the state moved up to 39th and had a score of 11 points out of a possible 50. Massachusetts finished first for the second year in a row, with a score of 43.5.
The organization ranks states on various policies and programs aimed at improving energy efficiency. Oklahoma, Montana and South Carolina were the most improved from the previous year's rankings.
According to the report, Oklahoma's gains came from:
• Legislative approval of a measure requiring all state agencies, colleges and universities to achieve at least 20 percent energy savings by 2020.
• The resumption of the Energy Efficient Residential Construction Tax Credit.
• The adoption of mandatory statewide building energy codes and the formation of a Uniform Building Code Commission.
Fallin said the legislation on reducing state energy costs came from a statewide energy plan developed with Oklahoma Energy Secretary Mike Ming, who also attended the event here Wednesday.
Ming said the state is now working toward setting benchmarks for agencies from which progress on energy efficiency can be measured. Fallin estimated that the effort could save up to $500 million by 2020.
“We want to do those things because not only do we save our taxpayers money, but it's also a shame to waste our natural resources,” she said. “We should always be good stewards of the resources that we have.”
Massachusetts Energy Undersecretary Barbara Kates-Garnick explained her state's top ranking, saying it no domestic energy resources except for renewables and is particularly vulnerable to volatility in prices and supply. The state has passed legislation to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, she said.