Posts in Category: Utility Policy

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.


Home Builders in SWEEP States Win Prestigious National Innovation Awards 

Southwest builders honored in 4 of 5 categories
Posted by Nancy Kellogg Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:45 PM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government Utility Policy

Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognizes the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program builders with the department’s Innovation in Housing Awards. Only the top 1 percent of builders in the nation receive these prestigious awards. But this year, builders from SWEEP states won the Innovation in Housing awards in four of the five categories:


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:


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.


Southwest Has More “Zero Energy” Homes and Homebuilders Than Anywhere Else in the Country 

Reasons for Progress Could Serve as National Model
Posted by Nancy Kellogg Tue, 06/27/2017 - 02:44 PM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government Utility Policy

More than 60 percent of the most energy-efficient homes built today in the country have been constructed in the Southwest. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of the homebuilders who make these highly efficient houses also are based in this region. The reasons for this success could serve as a model for other parts of the nation seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of their new housing stock. SWEEP’s building team recently “crunched the numbers” from the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 updated list of homebuilders who construct houses according to the strictest energy efficiency criteria.


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.


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.


Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016 

It's the first national Energy Efficiency Day: Get on board via social media.
Posted by Suzanne Pletcher Fri, 09/09/2016 - 04:25 PM Categories: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Utility Policy

On October 5, 2016, a network of organizations and partners across the country will join together to promote the benefits of energy efficiency for the first-ever, nationwide Energy Efficiency Day. We are inviting you to participate. It's all happening this first year on social media, and we've made it easy for you to participate by providing a digital media toolkit.  The toolkit has logos, hashtags, pictures and messages—everything you need to boost the visibility and benefits of energy efficiency here in the Southwest and nationally using your own digital media platforms: your website, Facebook page, Twitter, newsletter,blog, etc. This blog will tell you how your organization can participate.  


Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest 

Generating Enormous Benefits for Consumers and the Environment
Posted by Howard Geller Tue, 08/16/2016 - 07:03 PM Categories: Utility Policy

The major electric utilities in the Southwest greatly expanded their energy efficiency programs over the past eight years, programs that will result in their customers saving $5.5 billion net according to the utilities’ own data. These programs help households and businesses save energy through education, technical assistance and rebates, thereby increasing the adoption of energy-efficient lights, appliances, buildings, industrial processes, and the like.


The Supreme Court Did Not "Stay" Energy Efficiency 

Posted by Ann Livingston Mon, 04/25/2016 - 04:44 PM Categories: State & Local Government Utility Policy

The Environmental Protection Agency has included energy efficiency as a compliance option under the Clean Power Plan. This enables states and utilities to meet emissions reductions goals at least cost and—quite likely—net economic benefits for households, businesses and the economy as a whole. Whether states and utilities are waiting for a Supreme Court decision on the "stay" of the Clean Power Plan or moving forward with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency is the least-cost compliance path and has other benefits.  


Sensible Rate Design for Residential and Small Business Customers 

Posted by Howard Geller Mon, 04/18/2016 - 05:00 AM Categories: Utility Policy

With growth in electricity sales disappearing and adoption of rooftop solar systems expanding, electric utilities are increasingly proposing new rate designs in order to protect and stabilize their revenues. Many utilities are proposing to increase the monthly fixed charge and consequently reduce the variable “cents per kilowatt-hour” energy charge that households and small businesses pay. Charging residential and small business customers for the peak electricity demand that they register in any particular month is another proposal that is starting to surface in the Southwest. Here's how those proposals affect customers and why SWEEP participates in rate cases throughout the Southwest in order to ensure that rates continue to encourage greater energy efficiency.


Staying the Course: Despite Supreme Court Decision on Clean Power Plan, Progress Continues 

Energy Efficiency Policies and Programs are Generally Scaling Up Across the Southwest
Posted by Howard Geller Tue, 02/16/2016 - 10:00 AM Categories: Utility Policy

Staying the Course: Despite Supreme Court Decision on Clean Power Plan, Progress Continues

The Supreme Court recently took the unprecedented action of "staying" the Clean Power Plan prior to its review by the U.S. Court of Appeals. This means the Clean Power Plan will not go into effect while the litigation is pending. However, this does not mean that efforts to reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will or should stop in southwest states or elsewhere. Nor does it mean that efforts to accelerate cost-effective energy efficiency improvements will or should slow down.

All of the southwest states (AZ, CO, NM, NV and UT) have announced significant coal plant retirements that will occur in the 2016-2020 time frame, and more coal plants are expected to be shut down after 2020. 


Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy Efficiency 

Posted by Adam Bickford Tue, 02/09/2016 - 05:00 AM Categories: Utility Policy

Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy EfficiencyMidstream utility energy efficiency programs provide utility-funded incentives to equipment distributors and contractors to stock and sell energy efficient measures, such as commercial lighting products and heating and cooling equipment.  By contrast, downstream programs pay incentives directly to consumers or businesses that purchase energy-efficient products.

SWEEP has discussed the advantages of upstream and midstream program designs over traditional downstream designs here.  Programs such as the Small Business Program offered by Tucson Electric Power in Arizona and the Business Cooling Program offered by Xcel Energy Colorado show how midstream designs can drive energy savings while achieving market transformation in the commercial sector.