Boston ranked as most energy-efficient US city

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A new ranking by the ACEEE has identified Boston as the most energy-efficient city in the U.S.

On a scorecard devised by the ACEEE, the city scored 76.75 out of 100, beating off competition from Portland, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin (cities which all scored more than 60 points) to take top spot.

The scorecard awards points to cities for their energy saving initiatives, such as the provision of electric vehicle charging stations, the promotion of cycling and bike sharing schemes, and the introduction of laws requiring more efficient building designs.

While the U.S. Senate drags its heels on the issue of introducing nationwide energy saving acts, cities across the States have been praised for seizing the initiative and implementing change themselves.

"I always believed that mayors have a responsibility to push the envelope on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who in 2009 introduced the Renew Boston initiative – which aims to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70% by 2050, and reduce energy consumption by 200 MW.

In June, the Mayor implemented a raft of energy saving initiatives designed to encourage Bostonians to make energy-saving improvements to their homes and lifestyles. Subsidies of up to $3,000 are available for homeowners who install insulation, and a grant of $250 is available to replace obselete and inefficient wiring.

The city has also negotiated a bulk pricing deal for solar panels, making it more cost-effective for homeowners to install solar power on their homes. "My own house has solar panels," said Menino. "It saves me on electricity bills."

While Boston leads on ground-up innovation, the top-down rhetoric from Capitol Hill is ominously absent. A bill titled "Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013" (authored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio) remains lodged in the Assembly, despite the backing of President Obama and an impressively disparate alliance of environmental and business groups.

However, opposition to the Shaheen-Portman bill has been forthcoming, not least from the Heritage Foundation, who called the proposal a "costly, inefficient use of taxpayer money."

The bill is expected to pass shortly, as soon as all proposed amendments have been considered.