In energy efficiency, Utah scores an unimpressive 27th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a national "report card" released Tuesday.

But the new state energy adviser says Utah will be moving up in the rankings.

"The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard for 2006," released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, based in Washington, D.C., lists as the best 10 states Vermont, Connecticut and California (tied for first place), Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island and Minnesota, tied for ninth place.

The report was financed by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the study.

Scores between 20 and 33 out of a possible perfect 44 points were awarded to each of the top 10. The next 15 "trail fairly moderately behind" with scores between 10 and 17.5 points.

"The bottom 26 states, however, seriously lag behind the other states, scoring between 0.5 and 10 points," the report says.

Utah is in the bottom tier, scoring only 9.5 points in the group's rating system.

States were judged based on the following categories: spending on public energy-efficiency programs by utilities, with the highest being 15 points; energy-efficiency resource standards, 5 points possible; combining heat and power, 5 possible; building energy codes, 5 possible; transportation policies, 5 possible; appliance and equipment efficiency standards , 3 possible; tax incentives to boost energy efficiency, 3 possible; and state leading by example and research and development, 3 points possible.

Utah earned 4.5 points for utility spending on energy efficiency, 4 points for energy-efficient building codes, and 1 point for the state leading by example. It received no points in any of the remaining five categories.

Maggie Eldridge, research assistant with the council, said the first category, where Utah earned the most points, is based on states setting pending requirements for utilities to improve energy efficiency. In Utah, that spending amounts to about $7 per capita, she said.

"Right now, Vermont is spending about $22," she said. "Utah is certainly in the upper half of spending," Eldridge said, adding that with other categories, the state doesn't score as highly.

Such categories as energy-efficiency standards for appliances, tax standards and resource standards are fairly new, she said.

Appliance standards are set at the federal level, mandating minimum efficiency for such items as dishwashers and clothes washers. "Several states have adopted more stringent standards and set standards for additional appliances" not yet regulated by the federal government.

Utah has recently made a bid for greater energy efficiency, Eldridge said, and that might raise its rankings in future studies.

Dianne R. Nielson, recently named to be the state energy adviser, agrees that Utah's energy efficiency is improving.

"Considering where we were ... I didn't think it was so bad," she said, comparing last year's announced rankings with the latest.

Nielson said energy efficiency and conservation are improving in private homes as well as in government buildings.

Improvements in transportation policies should boost the state's ratings, she predicted, and new tax initiatives for energy conservation are on the horizon. With these factors and other efforts by public and private sectors, Nielson said, "I'd expect that you'd see us climbing up in the rankings next year."