Connecticut inched its way back into the top five states in the U.S. for energy efficiency policies and programs for the first time since 2009, according to the annual rankings by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The state came in at No. 5, up from No. 6 last year. But it bettered its overall score from 34.5 out of a possible 50 to 36 out of 50. The scores are based on six criteria. Most heavily weighted is utility and public benefits programs and policy.

While the state did not receive a top ranking in any category, it was cited for its 2013 legislation, including the Comprehensive Energy Strategy with a large focus on efficiency and the promise of dollars to do it.

Last summer, the administration and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection proposed the doubling of energy efficiency funding for each of three years as part of its first long-term energy efficiency strategy (though ratepayer fees will increase to pay for it). The strategy is still awaiting action by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

Legislation in 2013 also expanded other programs aimed at tracking efficiency and increasing it. Left unnoticed was an administration effort during the legislative session to commandeer certain energy efficiency funds for general fund use. Most of that ended up reversed.

Since the start of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, several other energy efficiency efforts have been added to the books, including an expanded consumer program now known as Energize Connecticut. The state has also embarked on a Lead By Example program to upgrade energy systems in state buildings, and it has initiated through legislation other programs to assist with creative financing for energy efficiency and energy upgrades.

“Energy efficiency is at the heart of my Comprehensive Energy Strategy because the cheapest energy is the energy that we don’t use through efficiency measures we all can undertake – with every dollar spent on efficiency returning nearly $2.40 in savings on energy bills,” said Malloy in a statement, adding that the state was poised to move even higher In the rankings. “The expansion of our popular efficiency programs is the perfect complement to a new array of innovative and affordable options we have put in place for financing additional energy efficiency investments.”

In the first year of the rankings, 2006, Connecticut actually tied for first with Vermont and California. It held the No. 3 spot in 2008 and 2009. But in 2010 and 2011, during the administration of M. Jodi Rell, the state fell to No. 8.

Ahead of it now is Massachusetts in first place, the spot it has held for three years. California is again No. 2, followed by New York and Oregon, also retaining their 2012 rankings.

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Jan Ellen SpiegelEnergy & Environment Reporter

Jan Ellen is CT Mirror's regular freelance Environment and Energy Reporter. As a freelance reporter, her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Yale Climate Connections, and elsewhere. She is a former editor at The Hartford Courant, where she handled national politics including coverage of the controversial 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. She was an editor at the Gazette in Colorado Springs and spent more than 20 years as a TV and radio producer at CBS News and CNN in New York and in the Boston broadcast market. In 2013 she was the recipient of a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate. She graduated from the University of Michigan and attended Boston University’s graduate film program.

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