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.  


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.  


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.


Automated Energy Benchmarking: A New Solution for Businesses in Utah 

SLC and Partners Got National Recognition for the New Program
Posted by Kevin Emerson MSc, LEED GA Wed, 06/29/2016 - 12:42 PM Categories: Buildings State & Local Government

Salt Lake City, electric utility Rocky Mountain Power, Utah Clean Energy and several energy managers from commercial businesses in the city teamed up to develop a tool that could automate the tracking of energy use in the metro area's commercial buildings.  Over two years, the partners tackled each obstacle and introduced an automated data system that would track and compare energy use amongst similar buildings.  For their efforts, the city, utility and other partners were recognized by the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy in January of 2016 for being among a small handful of municipal-utility partners to create an automated program in the two-year project timeline. Most importantly, the program was a success.  Here’s an account of what happened.


Utilities Engage Industrial Customers in Strategic Energy Management  

Training and Coaching Programs Can Save Significant Energy
Posted by Neil Kolwey Mon, 06/20/2016 - 11:47 AM Categories: Industrial

As utilities look for new programs to help achieve their energy savings goals, it makes sense to consider enhancing those programs already offered for industrial and other large customers. The best industrial programs include good-quality technical assistance and allow longer time-frames to complete projects. Some programs also offer multi-year planning assistance and bonus incentives to help get larger projects implemented. Here's a look at the latest "continuous improvement" industrial energy efficiency programs offered...


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!


Is 9 Times 12 Good for Energy Efficiency in Buildings? 

This Year, Maybe Not
Posted by Jim Meyers Tue, 05/10/2016 - 04:52 PM Categories: Buildings

The answer is 108, and it’s the number of hours that stakeholders spent assembling the ingredients for the next iteration of building energy codes—or what’s known as the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The outcome from the first hearings this year did not bode well for energy efficiency and the gains that have been made in the energy codes since the 2009 IECC.  Southwest officials will need to speak up, attend and vote in October to make sure energy efficiency remains an important cornerstone in building energy codes.


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.


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.


DOE Releases New Energy Savings Calculator 

This Time, It’s Online and Can Be Customized
Posted by Jim Meyers Tue, 03/08/2016 - 01:50 PM

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the new State Energy Code Savings Calculator. The online tool for both residential and commercial buildings is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that compares the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to the 2012 IECC for cost-effectiveness.  The DOE calculator allows states, municipalities, energy efficiency professionals and others to create state specific cost-effectiveness evaluations that can be customized by the user.


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. 


Pro-Benchmarking is Pro-Business—And Here's Why 

Posted by Christine Brinker Wed, 02/24/2016 - 10:31 AM Categories: Buildings

Energy represents 30 percent of the typical office building’s operating costs and is a property’s single largest operating expense. Yet energy usage information is hidden when a commercial business or investor is considering buying or leasing a property. Without this information, the investors, owners, and tenants can be saddled with high costs and a poor-performing building.

Here’s a look at the issue along with 12 reasons why businesses support and encourage benchmarking ordinances and love the energy efficiency upgrades that result. 


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.


Innovative SW Industrial Energy Efficiency Programs 

Posted by Neil Kolwey Wed, 01/27/2016 - 06:55 PM Categories: Industrial

Focused on their short-term profitability and survival, many industrial facilities are only willing to invest in energy efficiency projects if they pay for themselves in 1 to 2 years.  Yet there are very significant energy savings available in these facilities through projects with payback periods from 2 to 8 years. Several utilities in the Southwest have developed innovative programs that are leveraging this potential and helping industrial customers achieve significant energy efficiency improvements.

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