The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Traditionally this is a high growth region where energy efficiency efforts were lagging compared to some other regions, air pollution is a growing concern, and coal-fired power plants provide the majority of electricity supply. Due in large part to the efforts of SWEEP, the region has made great strides in advancing energy efficiency over the past decade. (Scroll down for list of SWEEP accomplishments.)
SWEEP focused initially on utility energy efficiency policy and programs along with the promotion of combined heat and power systems. Programs on buildings and transportation efficiency were subsequently added. In 2010, SWEEP initiated new programs to improve energy efficiency in the industrial sector, and provide technical assistance to states, counties and cities. SWEEP collaborates with utilities, state agencies, local governments, environmental groups, universities, private businesses, and other energy specialists.
SWEEP was founded in 2001 by Howard Geller, who previously served as the Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in Washington, DC. Funding for SWEEP is provided primarily by charitable foundations and the US Department of Energy.
A DECADE OF STRONG ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Due in large part to SWEEP’s advocacy efforts, funding for electric utility energy efficiency and demand-side management (DSM) programs in the region increased from about $21 million in 2001 to about $395 million in 2014.
- The annual energy savings from electric utility DSM programs in the region increased from 350 GWh per year in 2005 to more than 2,300 GWh per year in 2014. SWEEP has helped utilities improve the scope and effectiveness of their efficiency programs.
- Households and businesses in the region are expected save $5.6 billion net as a result of utility energy efficiency programs implemented in the region over the past decade. Much of this savings would not be realized without SWEEP’s efforts.
- Southwestern utilities and states are implementing a number of innovative energy efficiency programs proposed by SWEEP including programs to support multifamily housing retrofits, LED lighting, wifi-enabled smart thermostats, upstream incentives, behavior change, financing, and code support programs.
- The region has avoided the need for five large baseload power plants as a result of utility energy efficiency programs implemented over the past decade. Thus SWEEP’s efforts are yielding substantial pollutant emissions reductions and water savings, in addition to the economic benefits.
- States in the region enacted dozens of laws to advance more efficient energy use that SWEEP proposed or influenced. These laws enacted or led to the scale-up of utility efficiency programs, strengthened building energy codes, minimum energy efficiency standards on light bulbs and other products, tax incentives for highly efficient new buildings or vehicles, energy savings goals for public buildings, new energy efficiency financing mechanisms, and more.
- Arizona adopted some of the strongest energy efficiency requirements for investor-owned electric utilities in the nation, requiring electricity savings of 20% by 2020. SWEEP actively supported and this policy and helped prevent it from being weakened.
- With SWEEP’s backing, either the 2009 or 2012 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) has been adopted in New Mexico, Nevada and in all major municipalities in Arizona and Colorado. A number of cities are now considering adoption of the 2015 version of the IECC, influenced by our advisory and advocacy work.
- As a result of SWEEP’s efforts, Colorado recently adopted nine laws to promote purchase of electric vehicles and to enable cities and counties to invest a portion of their gasoline tax revenue in mass transit systems and non-motorized transport. Utah also adopted five laws to promote the purchase of EVs.