Blog


State of Colorado is near the bottom in funding public transit 

Colorado invests one-twenthieth of national average
Wed, 02/01/2017 - 06:48 PM  Will Toor  Comments(0)

The level of state support for public transit in Colorado is one of the lowest in the country. In Colorado's Statewide Transit Plan, CDOT used information from the National Transit Database to compare Colorado’s state funding for both capital and operating to the nation as a whole. For the nation as a whole, including states that do not provide any support for transit, states provide 26 percent of the operating costs for transit, and 12 percent of the capital costs.

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Top 9 Reasons to Update to a Newer Energy Code 

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 08:59 PM  Christine Brinker  Comments(1)

With the newest version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) on its way, we want to make sure all jurisdictions in the Southwest reap the benefits of the most recent energy codes and aren’t left in the dust with poorer-quality and leaky buildings built according to prior codes. We recommend moving to the 2015 IECC and improving efficiency beyond this baseline in the future.

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Corporate Clean Energy Leadership 

Energy Efficiency Is a Solid Foundation for GHG Reductions by Large Companies
Fri, 01/20/2017 - 08:46 PM  Neil Kolwey  Comments(0)

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies now have targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, buy renewable energy, and/or increase energy efficiency.  The companies want to be socially responsible and enhance their green business image, but pursuing clean energy goals also benefits their bottom lines, especially when their efforts emphasize energy efficiency. These enterprises will continue to play an important role in the next four years towards helping the U.S. achieve its Paris climate commitments, especially if there is little or no support for clean energy from the federal government.

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Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency 

States, local governments must pick up the slack
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:04 PM  Howard Geller  Comments(0)

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.

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Posted In: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Transportation Utility Policy

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

Rising prices drain road funds 1,000 times more than electric cars
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 08:10 PM  Mike Salisbury  Comments(0)
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...
 
Posted In: Transportation

Energy Codes Count award recognizes results 

$1.2 Million Saved: Value of Energy-Efficient Buildings to 50,000-Person Town
Tue, 12/20/2016 - 08:34 PM  Jim Meyers  Comments(1)

What's the benefit to a local community of incorporating the newest energy efficiency measures into the building code? For one Colorado town, it’s already worth $1.2 million.  The lessons from Parker (located southeast of Denver) underscore how local leaders can help their residents, businesses, homebuilders and commercial real estate developers recognize that spending a little money upfront can lead to big savings in the long run. Can your town, city or county show similar, positive results? Read on.

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Posted In: Buildings State & Local Government

Huge VW Settlement Can "Electrify" Transportation 

In the Southwest, potential $29 million for EV charging stations, $164 million for electric buses
Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:24 PM  Will Toor  Comments(1)

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.  

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Posted In: Transportation

It's Time to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation 

Transportation Ranks 1st in Emissions that Cause Climate Change
Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:47 PM  Will Toor  Comments(0)

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project recently provided comments to the Federal Highway Administration in support of establishing a "performance" measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.  It's timely because this year was the first that transportation overtook power plants as the largest source of GHG emissions in the United States—and because our commitment to the Paris climate accords will require a massive reduction of all GHG emissions, particularly those from transportation. Here's a look at the scenarios and comments from the Southwest.

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Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016 

It's the first national Energy Efficiency Day: Get on board via social media.
Fri, 09/09/2016 - 10:25 PM  Suzanne Pletcher  Comments(0)

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.  

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Posted In: Buildings Industrial State & Local Government Utility Policy

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

New Report Provides Rationale
Thu, 08/18/2016 - 12:55 AM  Will Toor  Comments(0)

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.  

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Posted In: Transportation

Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest 

Generating Enormous Benefits for Consumers and the Environment
Wed, 08/17/2016 - 01:03 AM  Howard Geller  Comments(1)

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.

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Posted In: Utility Policy

Automated Energy Benchmarking: A New Solution for Businesses in Utah 

SLC and Partners Got National Recognition for the New Program
Wed, 06/29/2016 - 06:42 PM  Kevin Emerson MSc, LEED GA  Comments(0)

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.

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Posted In: Buildings State & Local Government

Utilities Engage Industrial Customers in Strategic Energy Management  

Training and Coaching Programs Can Save Significant Energy
Mon, 06/20/2016 - 05:47 PM  Neil Kolwey  Comments(1)

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...

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Posted In: Industrial

Colorado Hits the Accelerator for Electric Vehicles! 

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 07:27 PM  Will Toor  Comments(0)

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!

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Posted In: Transportation

Is 9 Times 12 Good for Energy Efficiency in Buildings? 

This Year, Maybe Not
Tue, 05/10/2016 - 10:52 PM  Jim Meyers  Comments(2)

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.

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Posted In: Buildings

The Supreme Court Did Not "Stay" Energy Efficiency 

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:44 PM  Ann Livingston JD  Comments(0)

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.  

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Posted In: State & Local Government Utility Policy

Sensible Rate Design for Residential and Small Business Customers 

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 11:00 AM  Howard Geller & Jeff Schlegel  Comments(0)

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.

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Posted In: Utility Policy

How to Double or Triple Electric Vehicle Sales in Your Community 

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 11:09 PM  Will Toor  Comments(0)

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.

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Posted In: Transportation

DOE Releases New Energy Savings Calculator 

This Time, It’s Online and Can Be Customized
Tue, 03/08/2016 - 08:50 PM  Jim Meyers  Comments(2)

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.

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How Leading Utilities are Embracing Electric Vehicles 

Fri, 02/26/2016 - 05:11 PM  Mike Salisbury  Comments(0)

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. 

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Posted In: Transportation

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

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 05:31 PM  Christine Brinker  Comments(0)

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. 

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Posted In: Buildings

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
Tue, 02/16/2016 - 05:00 PM  Howard Geller  Comments(0)

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. 

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Posted In: Utility Policy

Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy Efficiency 

Tue, 02/09/2016 - 12:00 PM  Adam Bickford  Comments(2)

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.

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Posted In: Utility Policy

Innovative SW Industrial Energy Efficiency Programs 

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 01:55 AM  Neil Kolwey  Comments(1)

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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Posted In: Industrial