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South Dakota among Ten Least Energy-Efficient States

While our 2011 Legislature found time to pass coercive pre-abortion counseling and corporate welfare, it did nothing to help South Dakota catch up with the rest of the country in energy efficiency.

2011 Energy Scorecard Map, from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
2011 Energy Scorecard Map, from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The 2011 Energy Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy finds that we rank 42nd among all states and D.C. for statewide policies and programs to promote energy efficiency. That's down from 39th in 2010 and 36th in 2009.

Now notice that South Dakota can't use being a large rural state with hard winters as an excuse for poor energy efficiency policy. Our frosty neighbors in Minnesota manage to rank 8th; Iowa and Colorado are close behind at 11th and 12th.

Keeping South Dakota's score low are the absence of any state appliance standards, no statewide building energy standards or training for builders or local code officials, no policy to allow folks with their own wind turbines and solar panels to sell surplus power back to utilities ("net metering," a policy which South Dakota is one of only seven states not to offer), no vehicle emissions or efficiency policies, and no transportation system policies (unless you want to count our authorization of school districts to restrict bus travel).

South Dakota is very tight with its money; one would think South Dakota would be just as tight with its energy. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?


  1. larry kurtz 2011.10.29

    Hardly surprising that the least energy efficient states are among the most obese. The perceived unbridled right to consume is clearly a red state phenomenon.

  2. Michael Black 2011.10.29

    Cory, we insulated the studio (church) a couple of years ago. It paid for itself in the first winter. I did not need the gov't to tell me what to do or how to do it. I did not worry if I was going to receive a subsidy. I did it because I was tired of being cold and paying enormous heating bills.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.10.29

    ...and given that we can find similar initiative like that among all Americans, the fact remains that we as a state do less to promote energy efficiency than most other states.

  4. Stan Gibilisco 2011.10.30

    Based on the above map and on maps I've seen showing states according to severity of their financial problems, it seems to me that the most energy efficient states have, in general, the worst economic woes.

    I won't try to derive any cause-effect conclusions from that observation, and perhaps I suffer from eidetic memory distortion (EMD) -- but can't help but notice it. It strikes me as somehow perverse, but very real.

  5. Stan Gibilisco 2011.10.30

    Maybe a better correlation would come off as: The least energy efficient states have, in general, the least economic distress.

    Okay, I'll speculate, because I can't resist: Does our economic system reward inefficiency and waste?

    Hmmmm. Duhhh.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.10.30

    O.K., Stan, you asked for it! AARP has a map and chart from January on projected state budget shortfalls as percentages of state budgets for FY2011.

    I grab the ACEEE scores (not the ranks) for the 50 states and DC, line them up with the shortfall percentages, and run correlation:


    That tells me there is some correlation between higher projected budget shortfalls and higher scores on ACEEE's scorecard. (Curious, Stan: how do you feel about r-values in the 0.4-0.5 range?)

  7. Stan Gibilisco 2011.10.30

    Oops, my browser security won't let me see the plug-in, so I can't view the AARP map. I'll see if I can find another site that has a plain image for the map, and doesn't ask my computer to have unsafe sex with it.

    I would say that an r-value of 0.4424 indicates statistical significance, given that there are 51 "units" (states plus DC) to work with, but it's not so great as to form the basis for predictions that I would bet on.

    Oh wait, I don't bet on anything.

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