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Regional Energy Efficiency News

2010 Archives

December

Colorado PUC Adopts Settlement Agreements in Support of Xcel Energy’s DSM Programs

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved Xcel Energy’s 2011 demand-side management (DSM) plan with modifications. The approved plan includes some enhancements proposed by SWEEP that were included in a settlement agreement presented to the PUC (see items below). The plan with modifications anticipates Xcel spending $68.5 million and saving 256 GWh per year (0.9% of projected retail sales) through electric DSM programs implemented in 2011. In addition, the plan anticipates Xcel spending $15.8 million on natural gas DSM programs in 2011. The PUC also approved a settlement agreement that modifies the financial incentive that Xcel will receive for its DSM programs in 2010 and 2011. The new policy increases the cap on the incentive that Xcel’s shareholders receive if DSM programs are successful. SWEEP helped to broker a compromise among the parties in the docket on this issue.

 

Tri-State G&T Publishes New Integrated Resource Plan

Tri-State Generation and Transmission supplies power to 44 rural electric cooperatives in Colorado and nearby states. Tri-State has completed a new long-term electric resource plan. The resource plan demonstrates that  moving from low investment in demand-side management (DSM) programs to high investment in DSM could save Tri-State and its member cooperatives $280 million. Based in part on this study, Tri-State is expanding the DSM programs that it will offer to its members in 2011. The resource plan also projects much lower demand growth and need for new power generation than previous resource plans prepared by Tri-State. SWEEP participated in workshops and provided input on energy efficiency potential as the new resource plan was developed.

 

U.S. Congress Extends Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

As part of the tax package negotiated by the White House and Congressional leaders, the Congress has extended the tax credit for consumers who purchase qualifying energy saving products. The new tax legislation extends the credit to the end of 2011, but reduces the credit to 10% of the installed cost of qualifying measures up to a maximum $500 credit. Included are provisions limiting window incentives to $200, oil and gas furnace and boiler incentives to $150-200, and water heater and wood heating system incentives to $300. The tax credits had been 30% of the installed cost up to a maximum $1,500 credit. The new legislation also extends the $2,000 federal tax credit for builders who build energy efficient homes to the end of 2011.

 

Nevada PUC Approves DSM Plan for Sierra Pacific Power

On December 8, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved 13 DSM programs that Sierra Pacific Power proposed in a new three-year DSM plan. These programs will be implemented during 2011-2013 at a three-year budget of about $34.6 million. This is a 15% increase in approved DSM budget relative to Sierra Pacific’s previous three-year DSM plan. The utility estimates that the approved three-year plan will yield over 1.5 billion kWh of electricity savings over the lifetime of the efficiency measures installed, and will result in about $61 million in net economic benefits for households and businesses in the Sierra Pacific service territory. Sierra Pacific Power serves about 350,000 customers in northern Nevada.

 

Nevada Adopts Regulations Concerning Energy Information To Be Provided at Time of Home Sale

The Nevada Energy Commissioner has issued final regulations regarding the type of information that home sellers in Nevada must provide to buyers starting January 1, 2011. The regulations require providing energy use information for 12 months preceding the sale of the property as well as information about the energy efficiency characteristics of the property, if such information is reasonably available. SWEEP, along with many Nevada builders, home inspectors, engineers, architects and auditors believe the regulations do not qualify as a true evaluation of residential energy efficiency

 

November

SWEEP Hosts Seventh Annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop

On November 8 and 9, 2010, regional and national energy efficiency professionals gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada to hear the state of energy efficiency in the Southwest, and to learn about new and emerging policy opportunities and technologies that will reduce barriers to and result in greater energy efficiency adoption across the region.

SWEEP's Seventh Annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop provided a forum for regional utility, regulatory, state, and nonprofit representatives to hear the latest on demand-side management program development from the region's utilities, get updated on state and national policy efforts, and learn about emerging energy efficiency policies and technologies. The workshop featured a keynote address delivered by Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as several presentations by other prominent national and regional energy efficiency leaders. In addition, workshop included the presentation of SWEEP's Annual "Leadership in Energy Efficiency" Awards, given to policy makers and others who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest. The 2010 workshop was sponsored by NV Energy.

 

SWEEP Welcomes Two New Staff Members

SWEEP is pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members in our Boulder and Arizona offices.

Keith Freischlag has joined SWEEP as a Senior Associate for Utility Programs, working from our Boulder office to assist in the development, analysis and promotion of effective energy efficiency and load management programs. He has more than 13 years of experience in the energy field, specializing in DSM program design, implementation, reporting, analysis, policy and research. Prior to joining SWEEP, Keith managed residential and commercial DSM programs in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine for an investor owned utility. Keith also developed and worked with a number of gas and electric utility collaborative groups in the Northeast to improve stakeholder communication, develop program best practices and promote effective program design. Additional areas of focus include the development of statewide data tracking systems, contractor development and stakeholder outreach & education.

Ellen Zuckerman is our new Arizona Program Associate, based in Tempe, Arizona. Before joining SWEEP, she worked at the Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), a nonprofit energy efficiency training and technical services organization in New York City that specializes in multi-unit building energy efficiency. She has also worked with the Vermont Community Foundation, where she helped run an endowed fund that awards grants to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and land use projects in Vermont. Ellen graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a BA in geosciences and a minor in environmental studies. She was awarded the Edward Sampson Class of 1914 Prize in Environmental Geosciences for her geochemistry research and the Princeton Environmental Institute Leadership Prize for her environmental work.

 

SWEEP Offers Three National Webinars for DOE’s ARRA Technical Assistance Program

SWEEP has recently presented three national webinars as part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Technical Assistance Program. The following webinars and many others can be found at the DOE Solutions Center website:

Preparing for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles (presented by Mike Salisbury and George Little)
Energy Code Compliance and Enforcement Best Practices (presented by Jim Meyers, Eric Makela and Bruce Dimmig)
“Green” Building Codes and Programs (presented by J.C. Martel, Michelle Britt, and Curtis Framel)

As a member of the DOE's ARRA Technical Assistance Network, SWEEP provides state, local and tribal energy grand recipients the tools needed to implement successful and sustainable clean energy programs.

 

DOE Launches Home Energy Scoring Program

On November 9, the U.S. Department of Energy launched a new Home Energy Score pilot program, designed to offer homeowners reliable information about their homes' energy efficiency. Under the voluntary program, a report provides consumers with a home energy score between 1 and 10, and shows them how their homes compare to others in their region. The report includes customized, cost-effective recommendations that will help to reduce homeowners' energy costs and improve the comfort of their homes. The Home Energy Score program will empower trained and certified contractors to use a standardized assessment tool developed by DOE and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. With the tool, contractors can quickly evaluate a home and generate useful, actionable information for homeowners and prospective homebuyers.


The Home Energy Score tool initially will be tested with local government, utility, and non-profit partners in ten pilot communities around the country, including Eagle County, Colorado in the southwest. After the pilot tests, DOE expects to launch the Home Energy Score nationally later in 2011.

 

State and Local Code Officials Announce Historic Improvement in Building Energy Efficiency

At the final action hearing of the International Code Council (ICC) in late October, more than 500 state and local code officials overwhelming voted to increase the energy efficiency levels for the 2012 International Conservation Code (IECC) to achieve energy savings of 30 percent relative to the 2006 IECC. The new code meets the 30 percent savings goal sought after by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of State Energy Officials, governors, lawmakers, and the broad-based Energy Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC). The proposals adopted into the new code address all aspects of residential and commercial building construction, reducing energy use in new buildings and saving Americans potentially billions of dollars on energy bills. In the residential sector, improvements will:
• Ensure that new homes are better sealed to reduce heating and cooling losses,
• Improve the efficiency of windows and skylights,
• Increase insulation in ceilings, walls and foundations,
• Reduce wasted energy from leaky heating and cooling ducts,
• Improve hot-water distribution systems to reduce wasted energy and water in piping, and
• Boost lighting efficiency.
The package of improvements for commercial buildings should match those for homes in terms of energy savings. The ICC is expected to publish the new building code in early 2011.

 

SWEEP Announces 2010 Energy Efficiency Award Winners

SWEEP is pleased to announce that the Arizona Corporation Commission, Chairperson Kristin Mayes of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and Nevada State Senator Michael Schneider are the winners of its 2010 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards. The awards are given annually to individuals or organizations who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest.

During the past year, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) adopted energy efficiency standards for electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives that are among the strongest energy savings requirements in the nation. Investor-owned utilities will be required to save the equivalent of 22% of their electricity sales from energy efficiency programs by 2020. The ACC also adopted energy efficiency standards for natural gas utilities. SWEEP’s Leadership in Energy Efficiency award is being presented to all members of the Arizona Corporation Commission as well as to its Chairperson, Kristin Mayes. Under Ms. Mayes’ leadership, the ACC has made increasing energy efficiency and reducing customer utility bills a top priority.

Senator Michael Schneider from Clark County, Nevada served in the Nevada Assembly 1993-95 and in the Nevada Senate from 1996 through the present time. He is the Chair of the Senate’s Energy, Infrastructure, and Transportation Committee. In that capacity he has sponsored and supported numerous policies that will increase energy efficiency in Nevada including lighting efficiency standards, building energy code provisions, promotion of energy-efficient mortgages, utility energy efficiency policies, and utility accounting for future regulation of carbon emissions.

 

Arizona Adopts New Resource Planning Rules

The Arizona Corporation Commission unanimously adopted, and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard approved, new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) rules that will require utilities to conduct periodic planning of their future power plant resources in order to meet the state’s growing electricity needs. The new rules, which take effect immediately, require utilities to report to the Arizona Corporation Commission on how they will safely and reliably meet the state’s future electricity needs, and to quantify the associated environmental costs of future fuel resources. Because the environmental cost of using fossil fuels was not a factor previously required for utilities to consider, the rules are expected to promote the use of cleaner, renewable resources and create solar energy jobs throughout the state. Regulated utilities will file their first plans under the new rule in the spring of 2011. SWEEP actively participated in the workshops and rulemaking process to ensure that energy efficiency will be fairly considered by utilities in the development of their integrated resource plans.

 

October

Southwest States Shine in New State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

On October 13th, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 2010 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. In the Scorecard, states are ranked according to their energy efficiency policies and programs in a wide range of categories. The 2010 Scorecard designates three southwest states – Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – as “most improved” since the 2009 Scorecard. Arizona moved up from a ranking of 29th to 18th in 2010; New Mexico moved up from a ranking of 30th to 22nd in 2010; and Utah moved up from a ranking of 23rd to a tie for 12th in 2010. SWEEP played an important role in developing and supporting the policies and programs that helped these states boost their rankings.

 

Nevada Power Company Achieves Outstanding Energy Efficiency Results in 2009

Nevada Power Company (NPC) reported another stellar year for its energy efficiency programs in 2009, with energy savings of 336 GWh per year from programs and measures implemented that year. This is equivalent to nearly 1.6% of NPC’s retail electricity sales, placing NPC among the top tier of electric utilities in the nation with respect to energy savings achievement. NPC spent 98% of its projected energy efficiency program budget in 2009 while achieving 178% of its energy savings goal for the year. The utility also reports its 2009 programs had a benefit-cost ratio of 2.4 on average, and will yield $112 million in net economic benefits for households and businesses in southern Nevada.

 

Nation’s Top CHP Award Goes To SWEEP Board Member Patti Case

We are pleased to report that Patti Case, a SWEEP board member since 2003, and a key partner in SWEEP’s efforts to advance energy efficiency in Utah and the Southwest, has been awarded the nation’s top honor for Combined Heat and Power (CHP). The CHP Champion Award was presented to Ms. Case last week by the U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association at their annual meeting in Washington D.C.

Ms. Case was recognized for her unique ability to integrate CHP into broader efforts aimed at industrial energy efficiency, facilities management, clean energy policy, utility regulation, and individual state and local priorities. Her efforts to promote and advance well-designed and cost-effective CHP systems has helped transform CHP into an essential component in the southwestern states’ drive toward clean and efficient energy production and use.

Ms. Case is the executive director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Intermountain Clean Energy Application Center, which encourages greater adoption of CHP, waste heat recovery, and district energy through technical assistance, project support, economic evaluations, education, and policy reform. (SWEEP has been a partner in the center’s operations since its founding in 2003.) She is also a Principal at ETC Group, an energy and engineering consulting firm in Salt Lake City.

SWEEP congratulates Ms. Case on this distinguished award.

 


 

September

Colorado Program Recognized as One of Top Five State Energy Efficiency Programs in the Country

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently announced awards for exceptional state-led energy efficiency programs. The Colorado ENERGY STAR New Homes Program, sponsored by the Governor’s Energy Office, was honored as one of the top five state energy efficiency programs in the country. The program has been remarkably effective — nearly 45% of new homes built in Colorado in the first half of 2010 were ENERGY STAR qualified. The Colorado program aims to increase consumer awareness of energy efficiency options in residential new construction, and actively support all participating Colorado ENERGY STAR homebuilders. According to David Terry, Executive Director, National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO), "Energy efficiency efforts are thriving at the state level in ways that most people may not be aware of today. The program winners demonstrate how state governments can implement successful, cost-effective energy efficiency programs aimed at a variety of customer types.”

 

Nevada Adopts Lost Revenue Recovery for DSM Programs; Drops Equity Adder

On July 27, 2010 the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau confirmed a regulation adopted by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada (PUCN) on July 2, 2010 which provides Lost Revenue Recovery to Nevada's investor-owned electric utilities in conjunction with implementation of their energy efficiency and conservation programs. The Lost Revenue Mechanism adopted by the Commission provides for annual recovery of both the utility's efficiency program expenses and their fixed cost revenues lost from the reduced sales caused by the efficiency programs. The lost revenues will be recovered using a balancing account mechanism. The company will make filings each year to set a projected rate for the forthcoming year and to adjust for over- or under-recovery from the previous year.

The Lost Revenue Recovery mechanism replaces a different incentive for electric utility companies that had been in place since 2003. Electric utilities had been able to add their investment in their customers' energy efficiency into rate base and earn an extra 500 basis points return on this investment over a three-year period. The new regulation eliminates this special treatment of the companies' spending on DSM programs. The new regulation acknowledges the possible benefit of a performance incentive in addition to the lost revenue recovery, but, rather than specify a particular added incentive, it allows a utility company (or any other party) to file a request for such an incentive on a program-by-program basis.

 

Utah takes a step forward on residential energy code adoption

On September 8th, Utah’s Uniform Building Code Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Utah Legislature adopts the residential provisions of the updated 2009 IECC. The recommendation also includes an amendment that seeks to provide greater flexibility to builders in complying with the provisions of the 2009 IECC. An interim legislative committee is expected to consider the issue within the next 2 months.

 

August

Arizona Corporation Commission Approves Moving Forward with a Gas Utility Energy Efficiency Standard

On August 24, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved a Gas Energy Efficiency Rule and Standard designed to achieve 6 percent energy savings in 2020, at least three-fourths of which must be achieved through energy efficiency programs. This is a key step in moving the process forward to final rule adoption and certification. As a result of the Rule, Arizona natural gas and propane utilities are expected to expand existing energy efficiency programs and launch new programs to assist residential consumers, small businesses, and large commercial and industrial customers. Utilities can also get credit for more efficient building codes and appliance standards, if they demonstrate they have supported the adoption or implementation of them. SWEEP advocated for and helped craft key provisions of the Standard, which will ensure that all of Arizona’s utility customers benefit from better access to energy efficiency measres that reduce energy consumption, lower utility bills, and cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

 

The “Utah DSM Story” Presented at a National Energy Efficiency Conference

On August 16, SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller presented a paper titled The Utah Story: Rapid Growth of Utility Demand-Side Management Programs in the Intermountain West at the 2010 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. The paper reports on the drivers of electric and natural gas DSM efforts in Utah, the growth in program funding and the level of energy savings being achieved, and the challenges the utilities are facing. The paper is co-authored by Howard Geller, Jeff Bumgarner from PacifiCorp, and Dan Dent from Questar Gas Company. Both PacifiCorp and Questar have greatly scaled up their DSM programs in recent years.

 

New Mexico Becomes Leader in Residential Energy Conservation Codes

On July 30th, the New Mexico Construction Industries Commission (CIC) acted to save consumers money and protect the environment by adopting the 2009 New Mexico Energy Conservation Code (2009 NMECC) for new home construction. The new residential code will achieve a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency compared to the performance of homes that meet the current 2006 New Mexico Energy Conservation Code. Homeowners will benefit from reduced monthly utility bills, decreased energy consumption and increased comfort. SWEEP estimates that new homeowners in New Mexico will save over $66 million dollars over a ten year period as a result of the new code.

 

July

Arizona Commission Adopts Rules for Landmark Energy Efficiency Standards: 20% Energy Savings by 2020

On July 27, 2010, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) unanimously approved the rules that will guide the implementation of Energy Efficiency Standards for investor-owned electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives in Arizona. The standards specify the amount of electricity that utilities are required to save through their cumulative energy efficiency programs during 2011-2020. By 2020, utilities are required to achieve energy savings of at least 20% of retail energy sales, plus up to a 2% credit for peak demand reductions from demand response programs, for a total requirement of 22% by 2020. SWEEP estimates that these requirements will result in annual energy savings exceeding 2% of retail sales beginning in 2014, after a three-year ramp up of the energy efficiency programs. SWEEP estimates the standards will lead to around $9 billion in lowered utility bills for households and businesses in Arizona. These energy efficiency standards are among the most ambitious approved by any state in the country.

 

Nevada PUC Approves New Three-Year DSM Plan for Nevada Power Company

On July 28, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) approved Nevada Power Company’s new integrated resource plan which includes the company’s demand-side management (DSM) program plan for 2010-2012. The total approved DSM budget for this three-year period is $210 million, 79% greater than the amount Nevada Power spent on DSM programs during 2007-09. With this approval, Nevada Power will continue to be a leader among western utilities in helping its customers save energy. The Company estimates that its customers will save $495 million over 20 years as a result of DSM programs implemented during 2010-2012. SWEEP assisted Nevada Power as it developed its DSM plan and intervened before the PUCN in support of expanded programs.

 

Fort Collins, CO Municipal Utility Ramps Up Energy Efficiency Programs

Fort Collins Utilities has indicated it will spend about $5 million on energy efficiency (DSM) programs in 2010 in order to save at least 1.5% of total electricity sales. This goal was established by the city in 2009. This is more than twice the amount Fort Collins Utilities spent in 2009, which resulted in saving 0.7% of electricity sales [see report]. These programs are highly cost effective with an average cost of saved energy of just 2.0 cents per kWh. The utility funds DSM programs through its rates as well as through funding provided by its bulk power supplier, the Platte River Power Authority. Fort Collins Utilities serves about 65,000 customers and has annual revenue of about $85 million.

 

EPA's WaterSense Program Launches "We're for Water" Campaign

On July 14, 2010, EPA's WaterSense program launched the "We're for Water" campaign as a national effort to educate consumers about water-saving behaviors and WaterSense labeled products. The campaign will highlight the daily impact that water use can have on energy, human health, and savings while also demonstrating how small actions can have a big impact.

American public water supply and treatment facilities consume about 56 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes for an entire year. If one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year, avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for one year.

 

Kickoff Event for Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge – July 22 at State Capitol

The Colorado Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) announce the launch of a new program to encourage more energy efficiency at industrial facilities in Colorado. Funded through a 3-year grant from GEO and the U.S. Department of Energy, the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge (CIEC) program encourages large and medium-size industrial facilities to commit to a 5-year energy efficiency goal. In return the program offers recognition from the Governor, free technical assistance, and opportunities for networking and training. The formal kickoff for the program will take place at the Colorado State Capitol Building, at 9:30 am on Thursday, July 22. Thirteen leading Colorado companies will be recognized by Governor Ritter for their commitment to improving energy efficiency at their facilities and for their past energy efficiency achievements. For more information, contact Neil Kolwey, SWEEP Senior Associate, at 303-499-0213, nkolwey@swenergy.org. More information is also available at the CIEC website.


 

Xcel Energy Submits 2011 Colorado DSM Plan

Xcel Energy, the main utility supplying electricity and natural gas in Colorado, has filed its 2011 demand-side management (DSM) program plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The total DSM budget is $83.2 million, with $67.4 million for electric DSM programs and $15.8 million for gas DSM programs. Xcel expects it will save about 240 GWh of electricity per year, 368,000 dekatherms of natural gas per year, and reduce peak power demand by about 67 MW through implementation of this one-year plan. Xcel is proposing a number of new or enhanced programs since its last DSM plan which was approved in 2008. The Colorado PUC will review the plan, and SWEEP will intervene in this docket and suggest additional program enhancements.

 

Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program Guide for Existing Homes Now Available

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) has published an in-depth guide to energy efficiency programs for retrofitting existing homes. The guide includes program design recommendations and best practices, profiles of numerous programs offered by utilities and other program administrators throughout North America, information on training and certification efforts, and information on emerging technologies that can be included in retrofit programs. For a copy of the Existing Homes Program Guide, contact Rebecca Foster at CEE, rfoster@cee1.org.

 

June

SWEEP Selected to Deliver Technical Assistance for Federal Energy Efficiency ARRA Grantees

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), nearly $6.5 billion has been granted to states and communities across the U.S. for energy efficiency programs under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG), State Energy Program (SEP), and Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative. The ARRA SEP and EECBG Technical Assistance Program has been developed to provide state and local officials access to a network of financial and technical experts for assistance with their energy efficiency policies and programs. The goal is to help eligible grantees develop and implement successful clean energy projects and programs that meet the conditions and guidelines of the Federal grant programs.

SWEEP: A Regional Resource for Technical Assistance
SWEEP has been selected to be a part of the Department of Energy’s Recovery Act Technical Assistance provider network. As a member of the Technical Assistance network, SWEEP will provide support to recipients of EECBG, SEP and Retrofit Ramp-up grants in Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. SWEEP’s assistance will help grantees develop programs which support Federal initiatives and are designed to address long-term energy policy changes, environmental concerns, and the need to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

SWEEP is partnering with a network of non-profit organizations with a national footprint and a deep collective energy resume: Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (team lead), the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Have you Received ARRA Funding?
Has your organization received funding through ARRA SEP, EECBG, or the Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative? If so, you are eligible for assistance in developing your programs. First, check out the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) Solution Center, an online portal where you can find best practices, project resources, and other valuable tools to assist you in the development and implementation of successful projects and programs. There you can also log-in to request technical assistance from SWEEP and other technical assistance providers.

Find out More
For more information and direct assistance from SWEEP, contact Curtis Framel at 303-447-0247, or cframel@swenergy.org. You can also request technical assistance here or by calling 1-877-EERE-TAP (1-877-337-3827) to speak with a customer service representative who can assist you in submitting your request.

 

Utah Public Service Commission Approves Decoupling for Questar Gas Company

The Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued its order in a rate case filed by Questar Gas Company, the main gas utility in Utah. In that order, the PSC approved decoupling of the utility's authorized revenue recovery and natural gas sales, a policy known as the Conservation Enabling Tariff as it ensures that Questar will collect its approved revenues per customer when it implements successful energy efficiency programs. This policy, implemented on a pilot basis starting in 2007, led Questar to implement a very effective set of energy efficiency programs for its residential and commercial customers. The new rate case decision makes the Conservation Enabling Tariff permanent.

 

Utah Public Service Commission Fails to Adopt Decoupling or Stronger Inverted Block Rates for Rocky Mountain Power

The Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued its order in a rate case filed by Rocky Mountain Power, the main electric utility in Utah. In that order, the PSC did not approve decoupling of the utility's fixed distribution cost recovery and electricity sales, a policy proposed by the Division of Public Utilities and supported by SWEEP. This policy would have removed a portion of the financial penalty that Rocky Mountain Power incurs when it implements successful efficiency programs for its customers. The PSC also failed to adopt stronger inverted block rates for residential customers, as proposed by SWEEP. This policy would have provided customers with additional incentives for energy efficiency improvements.

 

May

In Memoriam – New Mexico Clean Energy Advocate Gail Ryba

It is with great sadness that we report on the passing of Santa Fean Gail Ryba after a battle with cancer. Gail was SWEEP’s New Mexico representative during 2004-07, chair of New Mexico Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy, and founder of the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico. She was trained as a scientist and conducted research at Sandia National Laboratory before becoming a clean energy advocate. Her dedication, passion, and kind heart will be greatly missed. For more information about Gail, see this article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

 

April

Questar Gas Company Realizes Outstanding Energy Savings Results in 2009

Questar Gas Company (QGC) reports that it saved about 1.1 million dekatherms per year as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented in 2009. This is about 2.7 times the level of energy savings that the utility had targeted for the year. The savings represent about 1.1% of annual gas sales to the residential and commercial customers eligible to participate in the programs. In total QGC spent $47.4 million (about 6% of sales revenue) on efficiency programs last year. Over 147,000 customers participated in QGC’s programs in 2009 alone. These energy savings results are among the highest for gas utilities nationwide. QGC supplies natural gas to about 870,000 residential and commercial customers in Utah.

 

New Energy Efficiency Metric Named in Honor of Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld

Energy efficiency experts have developed a new metric for electricity savings called the Rosenfeld in honor of one of the leading champions for greater energy efficiency over the past 35 years, Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld. The Rosenfeld metric is equivalent to saving 3 billion kWh per year, the amount of electricity supplied to consumers by a 500 MW baseload power plant operating with a 70% capacity factor and 7% T&D losses. Dr. Rosenfeld has long characterized electricity savings in terms of avoided power plants. SWEEP estimates that electric utilities in the Southwest saved 1.5 Rosenfelds in 2009 as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented during 2003-09.

 

US DOE Releases Energy Code Compliance Guide

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Energy Codes Program (BECP) has developed procedures and tools for measuring and reporting compliance with building energy codes in each of the states. Several drafts of proposed methodologies were shared with stakeholders from whom feedback was requested, received, and incorporated into a final document entitled Measuring State Energy Code Compliance, which has been posted on the BECP website.

BECP anticipates developing and posting a shorter “how-to” version of this document for stakeholders wanting only the high-level recommended steps for measuring compliance. Additional support tools also being developed are listed at the above site.

 

Boulder, Denver and Phoenix Selected for Recovery Act “Retrofit Ramp-up” Awards

Collaborative partnerships in Arizona and Colorado were among 25 projects selected for Recovery Act “Retrofit Ramp-up” awards, announced on April 21 by Vice President Biden. Under the Department of Energy’s $452 million Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, communities, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations will work together on innovative programs for retrofits of neighborhoods and towns.

The city of Phoenix, in partnership with Arizona State University and Arizona Public Service, has been awarded $25 million to launch "Energize Phoenix," a project that will focus on building retrofits along a 10‐mile stretch adjacent to the new Phoenix light‐rail line that includes a number of diverse residential and commercial areas. The project seeks to retrofit 50% of all commercial and residential space in the Green Rail Corridor over 3 years.

In Colorado, $25 million was awarded to a partnership between the Governor’s Energy Office, Boulder County, Garfield County, the City and County of Denver, and Xcel Energy. The Colorado retrofit program will stimulate economic growth and investment in Colorado through large-scale retrofits in neighborhoods and commercial districts in urban, suburban and rural areas. Delivery of retrofits will be coordinated through a "Two Techs and a Truck" program, providing on-site outreach, audit and implementation services to businesses and residences.

Appliance Rebate Programs Experience High Demand in Southwestern States

All six states in our region are offering rebate programs in April and May to help homeowners replace older, inefficient appliances with new ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances. The state-administered rebate programs are federally funded in all states with $300 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The rebate programs have seen very high demand in the southwestern states. In Arizona, over 30,000 rebates worth the total allocation of $6.2 million were reserved in less than four hours. Colorado, which augmented the ARRA funds with other partnerships to offer an $18 million rebate program, has experienced similar demand with nearly 15,000 rebates reserved in the first day. Below is a listing of southwestern states with total ARRA funding, program start dates, and links to official state rebate program websites. For more information on the nationwide DOE appliance rebate program, visit www.energysavers.gov/financial/70020.html

  • Arizona: $6,237,000 – Began April 12
  • Colorado: $4,739,000 – Began April 19
  • Nevada: $2,495,000 – Began April 17
  • New Mexico: $1,904,000 – Begins April 22
  • Utah: $2,626,000 – Begins May 12
  • Wyoming: $511,000 – Began April 15

 

2009 Utility DSM Programs Surpass Energy Savings Goals

According to recently released annual reports, the 2009 demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented by the principal electric utilities in Colorado and Utah achieved energy savings that far surpassed their savings goals. In Colorado, Xcel Energy’s 2009 DSM programs are saving about 240 GWh per year, 125% of the company’s energy savings goal. The programs had a benefit-cost ratio of nearly 4.1 on average and will generate $215 million in net economic benefits for customers over the lifetime of the energy efficiency measures installed in 2009. In Utah, Rocky Mountain Power’s 2009 DSM programs are saving about 230 GWh per year, 150% of the company’s energy savings goal. The programs had a benefit-cost ratio of nearly 2.0 on average and will generate $109 million in net economic benefits for customers over the lifetime of the measures installed in 2009. These energy savings values are net of free riders, and the benefit-cost ratios and net economic benefits are based on the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test.

 

New Mexico Adopts Energy Efficiency Measures

On April 8, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) established new energy efficiency rules that encourage electric utilities to look toward low-cost energy efficiency programs before building costly and potentially unnecessary power plants to meet the state’s energy demand. The Commission’s action further implements the state’s Efficient Use of Energy Act, designed to spur more utility investment in energy efficiency programs. The new rules provide a financial bonus to utilities for energy savings achieved through their PRC-approved efficiency programs. Increased efficiency investment could mean over $400 million in customer savings and almost 2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions over the next 20 years, according to PNM’s most recent long term plan. SWEEP participated in workshops on this topic and helped to develop the specific mechanism approved by the PRC.

Colorado ranks second in nation in energy-efficient schools

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Colorado ranks second in the nation in schools earning the prestigious Energy Star, the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. Colorado’s 2009 Energy Star roster includes 116 schools, placing the state second behind Michigan. New York, Virginia, and Indiana also appear in the top five. The Energy Star designation signifies that these school buildings perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency. Schools that earn the Energy Star use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Colorado Association of School District Energy Managers has made energy performance a priority by encouraging strategic energy management and making cost-effective improvements to buildings.

 

March

Colorado Utilities Commission Approves Inverted Block Rates for Xcel Energy

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved inverted block rates for residential customers of Xcel Energy. Starting on June 1, consumers will pay base rates of about 4.3 cents per kWh for their first 500 kWh of electricity use in summer months (June through September) and then 9.0 cents per kWh for electricity use in excess of 500 kWh per month. In addition, consumers will pay for fuel costs and other surcharges separately. Until now, Xcel Energy’s residential electricity rates were the same independent of the amount of electricity use. This new rate structure will promote energy efficiency and conservation during the summer when Xcel Energy experiences its peak demand. SWEEP was an intervenor in this docket and advocated for even stronger inverted block rates, including adopting them year round. However, the PUC decided to take a gradual approach to this new rate design. Xcel Energy is the main electric utility in Colorado serving about 1.4 million customers.

 

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Completes Major Energy Efficiency Potential Study

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State) has completed an energy efficiency potential study for its electric system, which consists of 1.4 million consumers served by the 44 rural electric cooperatives that are Tri-State members in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The study found a cost-effective electricity savings potential of 1.5 billion kWh by 2015, 10% of forecasted electricity sales by the Tri-State system that year. The study finds that maximizing implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency measures could eliminate over half the load growth and need for new generating capacity that Tri-State is projecting to occur during 2010-2025 without stepped up energy efficiency efforts. In addition, the study recommends numerous new energy efficiency programs that Tri-State and its member cooperative could implement. Tri-State sponsors very limited energy efficiency programs at the present time.

 

Utah PSC approves electrical interconnection rule

The Utah Public Service Commission has finalized a standardized and streamlined interconnection rule that will make it easier for combined heat and power (CHP) and other clean, local generation to safely connect to the electric utility grid. The new rule, R746-312 Electrical Interconnection, will become effective on April 30, 2010. The U.S. DOE Intermountain Clean Energy Application Center, jointly run by SWEEP, was very active in helping get the rule in place and ensuring it is based on state-of-the-art model standards. Utah’s new rule is among the best interconnection rules in the country, according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Clear and uniform interconnection rules are crucial to clean energy markets. By standardizing both the processes and technical requirements for connecting the grid, they reduce uncertainty, prevent delays, and ensure that the requirements are appropriate for the size, scope, and technology of the system. 

 

Congratulations to 2010 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest!

On March 18, EPA and DOE honored businesses and organizations for their outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency at the 2010 ENERGY STAR Awards ceremony. SWEEP congratulates the nine award winners with operations in the Southwest region.

Two organizations in our region were honored with the ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence for their exemplary efforts to promote and expand the market for energy-efficient homes:

  • Arizona Public Service (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Energy Inspectors (Las Vegas, NV)

Six southwest organizations were honored as ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year:

  • Colorado Governor's Energy Office (Denver, CO)
  • EnergyLogic (Berthoud, CO)
  • Frostbusters & Coolth Co. (Grand Junction, CO)
  • New Mexico Gas Company (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Public Service Company of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Questar Gas Company (Salt Lake City, UT)

In addition, Richmond American Homes (Denver, CO) received the Energy STAR Award for Excellence.

The complete list of award winners, with details of their energy efficiency accomplishments, is available on the ENERGY STAR website.

 

National Survey Shows Big Jump in Utility Energy Efficiency Efforts in 2009; Southwest States Shine

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) has released its 2009 State of the Efficiency Program Industry report. The report shows that funding for electric and gas utility energy efficiency and load management programs in the U.S. increased 44% from $3.7 billion in 2008 to $5.3 billion in 2009. But according to CEE, funding in the six southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT and WY) increased 52% from $192 million in 2008 to $292 million in 2009. Three southwest states—Nevada, Utah, and Colorado—are above the national mean for electric utility spending per capita while Utah is one of the top states in the nation in terms of gas utility spending per capita. In addition, CEE estimates that electric utilities across the U.S. saved 96,300 GWh of electricity in 2008 as a result of their cumulative energy efficiency efforts. This is equivalent to the electricity supply from about 30 large (500 MW) baseload power plants.

 

SWEEP Adds Two New Staffers

SWEEP is pleased to announce the addition of two new staff based in Boulder, Colorado. Neil Kolwey has joined SWEEP as a Senior Associate and Director of our Industrial Efficiency Program. Neil has over 25 years of experience working on energy and environmental issues. Most recently he served as a Research Manager at E Source where he led the company's greenhouse gas consulting practice. Prior to that was a Professional Engineer with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment where he led technical assistance efforts for the department's pollution prevention program. At SWEEP, Neil will be co-leading the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge program, a new initiative funded by the Governor's Energy Office and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as working to advance energy efficiency in the industrial sector throughout the Southwest.

J.C. Martel has joined SWEEP as Program Associate in our Building Efficiency Program. Prior to joining SWEEP, J.C. worked for the Center for ReSource Conservation (CRC) in Boulder where she developed and implemented the ClimateSmart Residential Energy Action Program. Prior to the CRC, J.C. worked at the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments retrofitting low-income housing. She has over 10 years of experience working on energy and environmental issues. At SWEEP, J.C. will provide assistance to state and local governments as well as utilities on strategies for improving the energy efficiency of both new and existing homes.

Contact information for Neil and J.C.:

Neil Kolwey
Senior Associate
SWEEP
2260 Baseline Rd., Suite 212
Boulder, CO 80302
303-499-0213
nkolwey@swenergy.org

J.C. Martel
Program Associate
SWEEP
2260 Baseline Rd., Suite 212
Boulder, CO 80302
303-447-0078 x2
jmartel@swenergy.org

 

Study of Co-Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewables in Utah: Air Quality, Health, and Water Benefits

A new study, completed by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. under contract to several Utah State agencies, establishes and applies a methodology to quantify the co-benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the areas of avoided human health costs and depletion of water resources. Co-benefits are defined as the monetary value of the externalities, or indirect social costs, of energy production which are avoided by implementing new policies designed to either displace or replace existing generation. The results of this study can be used for considering the full costs and benefits of new generators in utility integrated resource plans; determining effective strategies to comply with federal or regional air quality plans and state implementation plans; estimating pathways to meet emissions targets for regional and federal regulations; and other purposes.


February

Decoupling, Stronger Inverted Block Rates Proposed in Utah

Two important proposals to advance greater energy efficiency were submitted recently in a rate design case for Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), the main electric utility in Utah. The Division of Public Utilities (DPU) proposed decoupling of the utility’s fixed cost recovery and electricity sales to residential customers, a policy that would remove a key financial disincentive that RMP faces when it implements effective energy efficiency programs. SWEEP and Utah Clean Energy (UCE) proposed adopting stronger tiered rates to give high usage residential customers greater financial incentive to increase energy efficiency and conserve energy. RMP already has moderately tiered rates in effect in summer months. The two proposals, decoupling and stronger inverted block rates, complement each other. The Utah Public Service Commission is expected to reach a decision in this docket in May.

 

Utah Clean Energy releases the state's first Clean Energy Economic Development Study

Results from a new report, titled Building the Clean Energy Economy: A Study on Jobs and Economic Development of Clean Energy in Utah, show that investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy have the potential to yield significant economic benefits for Utah. The report analyzes the economic impacts of an electricity portfolio with 20% energy efficiency and 20% of electricity sales from renewable resources by 2020. This scenario yields nearly 7,000 new ongoing jobs in the state, $310 million in additional wages and salaries, and a $300 million net annual increase in gross state product (GSP) by 2020 compared with official state projections. Compared with a reference scenario based on current utility resource plans, the study shows the creation of 4,100 new jobs, $140 million in additional wages and salaries, and a $20 million increase in GSP by 2020. SWEEP was a co-sponsor of the study, which was completed by Utah Clean Energy at the request of the Utah Governor’s Energy Advisor.

 

Nevada Power Company Submits New Three-Year DSM Plan

Nevada Power Company (NPC) filed a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada on February 1, 2010. This filing includes the company’s proposed plan for 2010-12 demand-side management (DSM) programs. NPC is proposing to spend about $270 million on 20 different DSM programs during 2010-12. A significant portion of the budget pertains to smart meters as they relate to DSM efforts. NPC is proposing to spend about $59 million per year on average for core energy efficiency and load management programs, about 20% more than the budget for these programs in recent years. SWEEP in partnership with Nevadans for Clean, Affordable and Reliable Energy (NCARE) will intervene in the docket and argue for even greater funding for cost-effective DSM programs. For a copy of the NPC DSM plan, see volumes 6 and 7 of the IRP, which is available at http://www.nvenergy.com/company/rates/filings/index.cfm.

 

SWEEP Report Profiles Energy Efficiency Businesses and Projects in Colorado

On February 1, SWEEP released “Energy Efficiency in Colorado’s New Energy Economy: Business Case Studies,” a new report presenting eleven case studies which illustrate the range and variety of economic benefits of energy efficiency to businesses in Colorado. The report profiles five representative Colorado businesses that are making great strides in manufacturing, selling, and installing energy efficiency in the state. These companies have experienced 100 – 500 percent growth in the last two years, and are creating new jobs for Colorado residents as they grow. The report also presents six case studies of recent commercial, industrial and institutional energy efficiency projects around the state, which have resulted in significant energy cost savings and other benefits.

 

January

SWEEP and UCE Recommend Policies for Strengthening Electric Utility DSM Programs in Utah

On January 20, Sarah Wright, Executive Director of Utah Clean Energy (UCE), made a presentation on behalf of SWEEP and UCE at a Technical Conference sponsored by the Utah Public Service Commission on electric utility demand-side management (DSM) policies in Utah. The presentation included a number of recommendations that would enhance or reward electric utility investment in DSM programs including adopting energy savings goals or standards, decoupling utility electricity sales and fixed cost recovery, and allowing utilities to earn a profit on their expenditures on cost-effective DSM programs.

 

Colorado Springs Municipal Utility Issues DSM Potential Study

Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has issued a demand-side management (DSM) potential study. The study finds that DSM measures could cost-effectively save 1.75 million kWh per year by 2020, meaning savings equivalent to about 35% of the utility's current energy sales at the end of an 11-year effort. However, the study suggests setting an energy savings goal of only about 5% savings by 2018, far below the economic potential and only about half as large as the energy savings goal set by the Colorado PUC for investor-owned utilities in the state. CSU is the second largest utility in Colorado in terms of number of customers and electricity sales. The utility is implementing a very limited set of DSM programs at the present time.

 

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