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Minnesota tops Midwest rankings for energy efficiency; 10th nationally

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Minnesota was ranked 10th in a list of the most energy-efficient states in the U.S, with the city of Minneapolis finishing eighth in the national city rankings.

The state was praised as a "leader in energy efficiency" in the Midwest by the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy in its 2014 rankings, Midwest Energy News reports, but warns that investment will be required if it is to maintain its position in the table.

The tables are based on State Energy Efficiency Scorecards calculated by tallying scores given for energy efficiency in categories including transportation, utilities, heat and power, and government policy.

Minnesota was the highest ranked Midwest state, ahead of Illinois in 11th, Michigan in 12th and Iowa in 14th, and was scored highly by the ACEE for its gas and electricity efficiency programs, as well as the energy-saving policies of state government.

Minneapolis meanwhile ranked eighth in the ACEE city tables, ahead of Chicago and Philadelphia, with Boston topping the rankings.

The ACEE said Minnesota's natural gas savings were the second-highest in the country. Transit funding was another area praised, coming in a week when the Green Line light rail linked between Minneapolis and St Paul was lauded by CNN.

Minnesota ranked 11th last year, with the ACEE saying work to improve building energy codes was also among the reasons it moved up a place. Massachusetts was named the most energy-efficient state, wresting the crown away from California.

The oil-rich state of North Dakota came at the bottom of the list, with the ACEE criticizing its state government for "not leading by example" and allowing energy efficiency incentives to lapse. Filling out the bottom three are nearby Wyoming and South Dakota.

Renewable projects in Minnesota

Plans to make Minnesota even more energy-efficient are well underway, the Pioneer Press reports, with the Department of Transportation pushing ahead with proposals to install solar panel arrays alongside state highways, following the example of Oregon.

The department said it has been contacted by companies interested in installing the panels, and will be taking submissions until November 3.

MinnPost reports that should the pilot project goes ahead, it would generate more energy than the solar power installation being built at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.

Ellen Anderson, of the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota, wrote in the Star Tribune earlier this month that Minnesota has all the resources it needs to become energy independent through a combination of wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal and hydro-electric energy sources.

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