Posts in Category: Transportation

Students' Solar Decathlon vs. Real Market Homes: 

How concept houses at college competition compare with what residential builders offer today
Posted by Jim Meyers Fri, 10/27/2017 - 02:15 PM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government Transportation

The buzz at the 2017 Solar Decathlon proved infectious, thanks to the human energy and excitement of the college students worldwide who participated in the October event in Denver. And as a professional in energy-efficient buildings, I was impressed by what the young people demonstrated: new concepts, some pretty amazing technology, well-designed and cool-looking houses, and their willingness to “stretch the envelope” (pun intended). The competition also gave me an opportunity to reflect on those ideas and new technologies, their applicability for today’s new-home buyers, and finally how the decathlon concept homes compared in price to Zero Energy (ZE) homes on the market today.


New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest 

SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
Posted by Howard Geller Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:06 PM Categories: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

SWEEP’s updated and just-published fact sheets show the benefits to consumers and the environment from energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous economic and environmental benefits through their efficiency programs.

Backsliding on utility energy efforts, on the other hand, would result in higher costs for consumers, waste precious water resources, and cause greater harm to the environment and public health.


Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles  

State is accepting comments through October 13
Posted by Will Toor Wed, 09/13/2017 - 06:30 AM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has released a draft plan on how the state will allocate approximately $70 million in funding that the state will receive as part of the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. The settlement funds are designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, in order to mitigate the effects of the non-compliant, diesel-fueled Volkswagens.


Don't Gut Federal Energy Efficiency Programs 

Posted by Howard Geller and Neil Kolwey Mon, 08/28/2017 - 07:15 AM Categories: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

Federal energy efficiency programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are threatened with devastating budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. Should citizens, businesses, and elected officials in the Southwest care? Absolutely!

Southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY) are home to 123,000 energy efficiency jobs -- more jobs, in fact, than any other segment of the energy industry including oil and gas production. The federal energy efficiency programs support and contribute to these jobs, while providing significant energy and cost savings to businesses and consumers, and significant reductions in CO2 and other pollutant emissions.

DOE's energy efficiency programs include programs to improve energy efficiency in industry, homes, commercial buildings, and vehicles.DOE provides R&D support to help develop new technologies that save energy in industry and buildings.

EPA's ENERGY STAR programs also support many jobs and help Southwest businesses and homeowners save money through labeling of energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and buildings. The six Southwest states are home to more than 907 businesses and organizations participating in the ENERGY STAR programs.


A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars 

SWEEP reports offers specific steps that the city can take
Posted by Will Toor Fri, 08/25/2017 - 07:21 AM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on July 11, 2017, in which he pledged that Colorado would meet the Paris climate targets, and set goals for reducing emissions through more renewable energy, ramping up utility energy efficiency programs, making buildings greener, and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In order to meet these emissions targets, the state will need to ramp up electric vehicle adoption, and do it fast.

A recently released pair of studies should help the state develop this plan. One study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (with funding from the state) modeled the benefits of several potential networks of fast chargers around the state. The other study was conducted by SWEEP on behalf of the City of Denver, with funding from the Regional Air Quality Council, and looked at how the city and metro area can accelerate EV adoption, by deploying more fast-charging sites across Colorado, and encourage the development of more charging locations at apartments and condominiums complexes.

Here are a few key insights from these studies:


Clearing the Air With Electric Cars 

Colorado's sources for electricity cleaner than in other states
Posted by Mike Salisbury Wed, 08/23/2017 - 12:05 PM Categories: State & Local Government Transportation

A new report conducted by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project on behalf of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health (with funding from the Regional Air Quality Council) shows why more EVs on the road – including affordable models such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt - will help both metro Denver and the planet.

Simply put, electric vehicles (and soon, electric SUVs and trucks, too) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent to 43 percent compared with gasoline powered vehicles.  They can cut emissions of nitrous oxide (NOx) – by at least 38 percent and perhaps up to 63 percent and essentially eliminate emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These last two pollutants are important because they contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, which irritates human lungs and worsens respiratory illnesses.

By reducing the amount of ozone’s precursor chemicals in Denver’s air, electric vehicles will help solve one of metro Denver’s most vexing public health concerns. The findings of this report are important because they dispel the myth that EVs aren’t cleaner than gasoline vehicles. 


Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest? 

Hint: It’s Not Fossil Fuels Production
Posted by Howard Geller Wed, 07/19/2017 - 01:56 PM Categories: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

Which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest? Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, according to the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). If public officials want to expand energy-related jobs, they should start by supporting energy efficiency initiatives including the federal energy efficiency programs funded by the DOE and EPA.


How to Improve I-25 Traffic Without Spending Big Bucks 

Use market forces to help highway travelers for the long-term
Posted by Mike Salisbury Fri, 07/14/2017 - 02:01 PM Categories: Transportation

Anyone who travels on highways in the Front Range knows that congestion is a major problem in the Denver metro area and, based on expected population growth over the next 30 years, it’s only going to get worse. What if there was a way to increase mobility on the existing road, and improve transit and other options, without needing more public funds? This sounds like magic, but it really just requires a smart approach to using market forces to optimize the use of our existing highway lanes. 


Time for states to step up on clean transportation 

States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Posted by Will Toor Mon, 06/12/2017 - 01:23 PM Categories: State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

When President Donald Trump recently walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision spurred many states, cities and businesses nationwide to step up their own push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what the federal government does or doesn’t do. One key area for action is transforming America’s transportation systems.


With electric car tax credits, all of Colorado benefits from cleaner air 

But some state lawmakers want to cut useful program
Posted by Will Toor Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:30 AM Categories: State & Local Government Transportation

Colorado lawmakers are debating a proposal to eliminate tax credits that encourage consumers to buy cleaner, energy-efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and other alternative fuel vehicles. Opponents of the program – notably the Independence Institute and Americans for Prosperity – are feeding legislators incorrect information about how much most consumers can benefit from the program. Despite the opponents’ claims, EVs are not toys for the rich.


How Can the Southwest’s Communities Make Installing EV Charging Easier and Cheaper? 

Cities and Counties Adopt EV Ready Codes
Posted by Mike Salisbury Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:55 PM Categories: State & Local Government Transportation

Communities that require builders to install EV charging capabilities in new apartments, single-family homes and commercial offices will make the transition away from gasoline-powered cars easier for their residents. Some local governments have figured out an answer to how to make the changes happen. Recently, the cities of Boulder and Aspen, Colorado, joined the City and County of DenverBoulder County and Salt Lake City in adopting an “EV Ready” building code.


Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency 

States, local governments must pick up the slack
Posted by Howard Geller Fri, 01/13/2017 - 02:04 PM Categories: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

If the adage “personnel is policy” holds true, energy efficiency and clean energy will face a tough four years with respect to federal policy. With a pullback in federal leadership, states and local governments will be left to pick up the slack.


Blame inflation, not fuel efficiency, for potholes and rickety bridges 

Rising prices drain road funds 1,000 times more than electric cars
Posted by Mike Salisbury Fri, 01/13/2017 - 01:10 PM Categories: Transportation
As in many states across the country, in Colorado and Nevada the demand for funding to maintain and improve roadways outstrips revenue dedicated for this purpose. At a legislative hearing in December 2016, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said it needed $1 billion read more...

Huge VW Settlement Can "Electrify" Transportation 

In the Southwest, potential $29 million for EV charging stations, $164 million for electric buses
Posted by Will Toor Fri, 10/14/2016 - 04:24 PM Categories: Transportation

When Volkswagen was caught systematically cheating on emissions tests, making their diesel vehicles look much cleaner than they actually are, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit for violations of the Clean Air Act. The company and the DOJ have reached a partial settlement, which is expected to be approved by a federal judge in October. The settlement includes approximately $10 billion in compensation to owners of noncompliant VWs, but also includes $4.7 billion that could help to accelerate the adoption of electric cars and buses.

We believe the two big opportunities that come from these substantial settlement dollars are building out the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the Southwest and replacing old diesel buses with zero emission buses powered by electricity.  


Colorado Needs New Policies to Provide Funding for Bike, Bus, Rail and Ped Travel 

New Report Provides Rationale
Posted by Will Toor Wed, 08/17/2016 - 06:55 PM Categories: Transportation

A new report released by the CoPIRG Foundation and Southwest Energy Efficiency Project makes the case that transportation funding needs to be allocated to other modes of travel besides highways. This investment could come from reallocating a portion of existing federal, state and local transportation funding and as part of any new transportation funding plan.

It contends that Colorado would benefit from investing $1 billion per year in transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure and services in order to meet the demands and challenges of the state’s shifting demographics and growing population.  


Colorado Hits the Accelerator for Electric Vehicles! 

Posted by Will Toor Tue, 06/07/2016 - 01:27 PM Categories: Transportation

Colorado Hits the Accelerator for Electric Vehicles!Colorado has strengthened its claim to being a national leader in promoting electric vehicles with the passage of HB 1332 legislation that is designed to make the state income tax credit for electric vehicles more effective at increasing EV sales. The bill makes two major changes – simplifying the tax credit, and making the credits assignable, allowing them to function more like a point of sale rebate. The Washington Post  and Time Magazine  describe this bill as making Colorado the best state to buy a new electric car.

Colorado already had an income tax credit in place for EVs, in place through 2021. This, along with a suite of supportive policies, has propelled Colorado into the top ten states for per capita EV sales. In 2015, a hard year for EV sales nationally, Colorado bucked the trend with a 10% increase in EV sales over 2014. But the changes in HB 1332 should further accelerate sales!


How to Double or Triple Electric Vehicle Sales in Your Community 

Posted by Will Toor Thu, 03/10/2016 - 04:09 PM Categories: Transportation

Are you interested in doubling or tripling electric vehicle sales in your area? Communities across the Southwest have found an innovative way to significantly increase electric vehicle sales: a group purchase program that provides a time limited opportunity for their residents to get discounts on purchasing an electric vehicle.  The results of these programs are impressive.  In order to help other communities in Colorado and across the nation boost sales of EVs and reap the benefits of zero-emission vehicles, the Colorado Energy Office has developed a handbook which provides a program template.  SWEEP developed a case study that tells the story of Boulder County's program.  This blog provides an overview and links to both the handbook and case study.


How Leading Utilities are Embracing Electric Vehicles 

Posted by Mike Salisbury Fri, 02/26/2016 - 10:11 AM Categories: Transportation

A business owner has the chance to expand her market and immediately increase sales.  She jumps at the opportunity, right?

Electric vehicles (EVs) offer electric utilities exactly that type of opportunity to increase sales. And leading utilities across the United States are taking notice and embracing plug-in cars.

This blog highlights several key points from a new SWEEP report that describes the opportunities and challenges that electric vehicles present to utilities.  It reviews why utilities  should embrace EVs and what leading utilities across the country are already doing to increase adoption of electric vehicles.