Regional News Briefs

2005 Archives


SWEEP Works to Reduce Energy Bills for Residents in the Southwest

In light of the recent increases in electricity and natural gas prices being seen across the country, SWEEP is working closely with state officials in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah to see the implementation of energy efficiency programs targeted to low-income households. To aid those efforts, SWEEP recently completed a review of some of the leading "direct installation" energy efficiency programs currently being implemented in the United States. Direct installation energy efficiency programs are those in which simple low-cost energy-saving measures are installed in low-income households. These programs were common and successful in the early 1990s, but fell into disuse later in the decade due to relatively low energy process.

Proposal for Natural Gas DSM Programs and Decoupling Filed in Utah

Questar Gas Company, the natural gas distribution utility in Utah, has proposed starting gas demand-side management (DSM) programs along with decoupling its gas sales and fixed cost recovery from residential and commercial customers. The latter proposal, termed a "conservation enabling tariff," will ensure that Questar is not financially penalized if conservation programs and efforts by its customers are successful. The proposal is supported by Utah Clean Energy, a non-profit group with whom SWEEP works closely; SWEEP helped draft the DSM portion of the proposal. The proposal will now be taken up the Public Service Commission of Utah.

New Mexico Coalition Files Energy Efficiency Testimony

Gail Ryba, SWEEP's New Mexico representative, filed testimony this month before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) on behalf of the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy (CCAE). The testimony supports a settlement agreement that CCAE reached with Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). This agreement includes a commitment by PNM to develop and propose comprehensive electricity demand-side management (DSM) programs no later than January 2007. Dr. Ryba's testimony estimates the potential for electricity savings and peak demand reduction from well-funded DSM programs in PNM's service area, and the economic benefits that such programs could provide.


Southwest Legislators Receive SWEEP Energy Efficiency Award

SWEEP announced this month that Arizona State Representative Lucy Mason and Nevada State Senator Randolph Townsend are the winners of its 2005 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards. The awards are given annually to policy makers and others who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest.

Representative Mason (R-Prescott) was honored for sponsoring and leading the advocacy of Arizona House Bill 2390 - Energy Efficiency Appliance Standards. HB 2390 sets minimum energy efficiency standards on 12 products sold in Arizona beginning in 2008. SWEEP estimates the standards will save businesses and consumers over $650 million on their energy bills, and will reduce water consumption in Arizona by 15 billion gallons during 2008-2020. Senator Townsend (R-Reno) was recognized for sponsoring Nevada Assembly Bill 03, an omnibus energy bill that allows electricity providers to receive credits towards Nevada's energy portfolio standards for energy savings from certain energy efficiency measures; encourages greater energy efficiency in new or renovated state buildings and buildings constructed by the private sector; and updates the state's building energy code. You can learn more about these two bills in SWEEP's 2005 Legislative Activities Report.

This year's awards were presented at the Energy Efficiency Program Design and Implementation Workshop, held this year in Phoenix and co-sponsored by SWEEP and the Salt River Project.

Howard Geller Co-Authors New IEA Report

SWEEP's Executive Director Howard Geller and Sophie Attali recently prepared a new report for the International Energy Agency, titled Energy Efficiency Policies and Programmes in IEA Countries: Learning from the Critics. The report presents and evaluates the criticisms that are commonly leveled at energy efficiency policies and programs, acknowledging those that have merit, and debunking those that do not. Criticisms covered include the rebound effect will erode most or all energy savings; most energy savings will happen anyway due to ongoing technological advances or rising energy prices; the discount rates used to justify energy efficiency policies and programs are too low; energy efficiency policies and programs are much less effective than their proponents claim; the market failures used to justify energy efficiency policies and programs are mostly a myth; energy savings are impossible to meter and too difficult or costly to estimate accurately; and energy efficiency is a failure because energy use has been increasing in OECD nations.

New Energy Efficiency Programs Announced by Xcel Energy

On November 16, Xcel Energy announced the details of new energy efficiency programs that will be offered to its business customers in Colorado starting in January 2006. The five new programs provide financial incentives and in some cases technical assistance to help customers increase the energy efficiency of their lighting, cooling, and motors systems. In addition, programs will promote energy efficiency in new construction as well as low-cost efficiency improvements in existing mechanical systems and controls. Click here for a summary of the new programs. Xcel will be announcing other new energy efficiency programs in the coming months.


Nevada Utilities Increase Budgets for Energy Efficiency Programs

Recently-passed legislation adding energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs to the state's clean energy portfolio standards continues to have a positive impact on utility demand-side management (DSM) efforts in Nevada. Both Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company recently requested Nevada Public Utility Commission approval of additional funding for DSM programs in 2005 and 2006. Combined, the utilities are now planning to spend $16.2 million on DSM programs in 2005 and $30.5 million in 2006. The largest increases next year will go for incentives on high efficiency air conditioners and ENERGY STAR® appliances and lighting products (see table below). This is the second increase proposed by the utilities since passage of Assembly Bill 3 this past June. To learn more about the bill, read the Nevada section of SWEEP's 2005 Legislative Report.

SWEEP Releases New Report on Residential Lighting Programs

A new SWEEP report, Policies and Programs for Increasing the Adoption of High-Efficiency Lighting in Homes in the Southwest, reviews experience with residential lighting efficiency programs and provides recommendations to policy makers and program administrators in the southwest region. It covers utility programs, regional market transformation efforts, building codes, and other new construction programs. The report demonstrates how well-designed programs can greatly increase the purchase and use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and other efficient lighting devices.


WGA Energy Efficiency Task Force Releases Report

The Energy Efficiency Task Force of the Western Governors' Association (WGA) Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee has released a draft report for public review. The report examines the potential for more efficiency electricity use and recommends what the 18 western states should do to increase energy efficiency. Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director, is the chair of the Energy Efficiency Task Force.

The WGA is examining the feasibility of and actions that would be needed to develop 30,000 megawatts of clean energy in the West by 2015, ensure adequate transmission, and increase energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020. The Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee was created to oversee this work.


Nevada Utilities Propose Demand-Side Management (DSM) Program Expansion

On August 15, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company filed amendments to their DSM programs plans, increasing the combined budget for 2006 to $22.7 million. Additional funding is requested for high-efficiency air conditioner incentives and promotion, air conditioner cycling, and second refrigerator recycling. If the requests are approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, it will result in Nevada's two investor-owned utilities spending about 0.8% of their retail revenues on DSM programs in 2006. Legislation enacted this past June, which added energy savings from DSM measures to Nevada's renewable energy portfolio standard, is already spurring increased support for DSM on the part of the utilities.


Arizona Public Service Company Unveils DSM Program Proposals

The Arizona Public Service Company (APS) has submitted demand-side management (DSM) program proposals to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in the wake of a rate settlement agreement that calls for the utility to greatly expand its DSM offerings. APS has proposed four DSM programs for its residential customers and six for its non-residential customers, with a total utility budget of $48 million during 2005-2007. APS estimates the three-year effort will result in $68 million in net societal benefits. It is expected that the programs will be reviewed and approved by the ACC in the next few months. SWEEP advised APS as it developed the proposed programs.

Nevada Updates Building Energy Codes at the State and Local Level

Nevada has seen significant efforts to update building energy codes across the state in 2005.

In northern Nevada, all jurisdictions in the Reno area, including the cities of Reno, Sparks, and Carson City, and both Douglas and Washoe counties, have adopted the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for all new residential and commercial buildings. The new code became effective on July 1, 2005. In southern Nevada, the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Mesquite, and Boulder City, as well as Clark County, have also adopted the 2003 IECC, effective August 1, 2005. And on June 17, 2005, Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn signed into law a bill that applies the 2003 IECC to all jurisdictions in the state that have not adopted a building energy code.

Between these local and state efforts, it is quite likely that all new residential and commercial construction in the state must now be built to 2003 IECC standards.

For more information, see SWEEP's study Increasing Energy Efficiency in New Buildings in the Southwest: Energy Codes and Best Practices.

Arizona Governor Napolitano Promotes Energy Efficiency

In her July 13, 2005 Message of the Week, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano encouraged Arizona residents to save energy during the hot summer months. Through her message, Governor Napolitano provided residents with a list of energy-saving tips, and also declared the month of July as ENERGY STAR® month in Arizona. Governor Napolitano has continually shown her support for energy efficiency, most recently when she signed legislation, House Bill 2390, which established minimum energy efficiency standards for 12 products not currently covered by federal efficiency standards.


Colorado Governor Vetoes Natural Gas Conservation Legislation

Colorado Governor Bill Owens has vetoed House Bill B 1133, killing a bill that would have stimulated energy conservation programs by Colorado's natural gas utilities. This is the second energy efficiency bill adopted by the Colorado General Assembly to be vetoed by Owens (see May 2005 to read about Colorado House Bill 1162, Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards).

HB 1133 also directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish a cost recovery mechanism and provide a positive financial incentive for natural gas utility energy conservation programs. SWEEP estimates that HB 1133 would have resulted in $700 million in net savings for households in Colorado.

Click here to read more about HB 1133 on SWEEP's Colorado Legislative Page.

Nevada Legislature Passes Omnibus Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation

In a special session held on June 7, the Nevada State Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 03, a wide-reaching bill that, amongst others, allows electricity providers to receive credits under the renewable energy portfolio standard for energy savings from certain energy efficiency measures; encourages energy efficiency in new or renovated state buildings as well as in buildings constructed by the private sector; and updates the state's building energy code.

Of particular note is the opportunity the bill provides to the state's electricity providers to meet a portion of Nevada's clean energy portfolio requirement through energy savings. The portfolio standard, which currently ramps up to 15% of electricity sales by 2013, is increased to 20% of sales by 2015 in AB 03. The bill allows utilities to meet the standard through either renewable energy generation or credits, or energy savings from efficiency measures that the utilities provide financial support for. The contribution from energy efficiency measures is capped at one-quarter of the total standard in any particular year.

Click here to read more about AB 03 on SWEEP's Nevada Legislative Page.

SWEEP Launches New Energy Efficiency Website

SWEEP and the etc Group of Salt Lake City have announced the development of a web-based information resource that will assist Utah businesses in reducing their use of energy and lowering their energy bills. The Energy Efficiency Guide for Utah Businesses has been developed with funding from the Utah State Energy Office, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 office. Targeted to business and facility owners and managers, the aim of the Guide is to point out opportunities for Utah businesses to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and operations, and help businesses obtain assistance in identifying and implementing energy efficiency projects.


SWEEP Executive Director Contributes to Colorado Energy Magazine

SWEEP's Executive Director Howard Geller contributed two articles to the Spring/Summer 2005 edition of Smart Energy Living, a publication of the Colorado Energy Science Center. Cool Those Summertime Blues provides tips for maximizing the efficiency of home air conditioners, while Full of Hot Air: Natural Cooling Technologies discusses the benefits of evaporative cooling. Learn more about the Colorado Energy Science Center by visiting their website,

Colorado Governor Vetoes Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards Legislation

Colorado Governor Bill Owens has vetoed House Bill B 1162, killing the bill and preventing the appliance energy efficiency standards contained within it from becoming law. Broad support for the energy efficiency requirements was demonstrated by the Colorado legislature. The bill passed the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on a 12-1 vote and the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee on a 6-1 vote.

As adopted by the Colorado General Assembly, HB 1162 sets minimum energy efficiency standards for 14 products not currently covered by federal standards, including torchiere light fixtures, exit signs, traffic signals, commercial refrigerators and freezers, commercial clothes washers, and external power supplies. Once the standards take effect in 2008, sales of non-compliant appliances will be banned. Energy efficiency standards similar to HB 1162 have been adopted recently by California, Connecticut, and Maryland.

SWEEP estimates that HB 1162 will save consumers and businesses about $535 million by 2030; lower water use by nearly 14 billion gallons during 2008-2020; save 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year by 2020; and reduce peak electricity demand by 218 megawatts by 2020.

Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Report Released

Western Resource Advocates, with assistance from SWEEP, has issued a report on natural gas usage and energy efficiency potential. Using Natural Gas More Efficiently: Saving Money and Protecting Our Western Way of Life argues that stepped-up gas conservation efforts could both lower gas prices and reduce pressure for gas exploration and production on environmentally-sensitive public lands.


Arizona Corporation Commission Supports Expanded DSM Programs by Arizona Public Service Company

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approved on a 4-1 vote Arizona Public Service's first full rate case in 14 years. The approval includes $16 million per year in demand-side management (DSM) program spending. SWEEP played an intervenor role in the rate case, advocating for expanded DSM programs throughout the process.

New Mexico Governor Signs Energy Efficiency Legislation into Law

On April 5, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed House Bill 619/Senate Bill 644, known as the Efficient Use of Energy Act, into law. The Act will require "public utilities to evaluate and implement cost-effective programs that reduce energy demand and consumption," defining cost-effective as programs passing the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test. It allows public utilities to recover costs through a tariff rider for approved energy efficiency and load management programs.

The Efficient Use of Energy Act is the work of the Utility Energy Efficiency Task Force, appointed by Governor Richardson in August 2004. The Task Force included representatives from public interest groups, industrial energy consumers, investor-owned utilities, distribution cooperatives, AARP, and other stakeholders. SWEEP was an active participant in the Task Force. The Task Force drafted a consensus bill to advance utility energy efficiency programs in New Mexico. The consensus bill was introduced in the both houses of the New Mexico Legislature in January 2005.

SWEEP Releases Two Duct System Reports

SWEEP has researched and published two new reports on duct systems in homes for the Southwest. Duct Systems in Southwestern Homes: Problems and Opportunities documents the energy waste, safety, and comfort problems associated with the distribution systems of heating and air conditioning systems, and discusses a number of practical techniques for resolving these problems. Policies and Programs for Saving Energy through Enhanced Duct Systems reviews a number of utility-conducted programs that have been successful in reducing much of the waste associated with inefficient distribution systems, and also discusses efforts in California and New York to adopt provisions in energy codes that will result in more efficient duct systems in homes.

Arizona Governor Signs Appliance Efficiency Standards into Law

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed House Bill 2390, regarding energy efficiency standards for appliances, into law on April 26, 2005. Sponsored by Representative Lucy Mason (R-Prescott), HB 2390 sets minimum energy efficiency standards for 12 products not currently covered by federal standards, including torchiere light fixtures, exit signs, traffic signals, commercial refrigerators and freezers, commercial clothes washers, and external power supplies. Once the standards take effect in 2008, sales of non-compliant appliances will be banned. Energy efficiency standards similar to HB 2390 have been adopted recently by California, Connecticut, and Maryland.

SWEEP estimates that HB 2390 will save consumers and businesses about $800 million net by 2030; lower water use by 2.6 billion gallons per year by 2020; save 1.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year by 2020; and reduce peak electricity demand by 430 megawatts by 2020.


Arizona Utility Commission Supports Expanded DSM Programs by Arizona Public Service Co.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has issued a recommended order in the Arizona Public Service Co. rate case. The order supports the $16 million per year demand-side management (DSM) program funding level and the other details related to DSM programs in the settlement presented to the ACC. SWEEP is an intervenor in this rate case and is one of the main advocates of expanded DSM programs. For further details, see APS Opinion and Order.

Arizona Working Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Issues Report

The Working Group has presented a report to Governor Napolitano with recommendations on what the Governor could do to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy in Arizona. It includes recommendations related to building codes, appliance efficiency standards, consumer education, and energy efficiency in the public sector. Jeff Schlegel, SWEEP's Arizona representative, was a member of the Working Group. For details, see the Governor's Report.

Phoenix City Council Adopts New Energy Code

On March 30, the Phoenix City Council adopted a new "Phoenix Building Construction Code," which includes the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and its 2004 Supplement. The new code will provide minimum health and safety standards for the construction of buildings in Phoenix. The City of Phoenix currently enforces the 1997 Uniform Building Code, which is outdated and no longer in publication. In July 2004, the City Council directed staff to develop the new Phoenix Building Construction Code using the International Codes. The effective date of the new building code is July 1, 2005.


Nevada 2005 Energy Plan Issued

The Nevada State Office of Energy has issued its 2005 Status of Energy in Nevada report. The report updates the state energy plan and includes all of the high priority energy efficiency policy recommendations from the Nevada Energy Efficiency Strategy prepared by SWEEP. The new report can be downloaded from the Nevada Energy Office web site,


Governor Guinn Announces Nevada Energy Efficiency Strategy

Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn announced on January 12 that new policies for increasing energy efficiency could save consumers and businesses in Nevada nearly $5 billion over the next 15 years, according to the "Nevada Energy Efficiency Strategy" released today by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), the Nevada State Office of Energy (NSOE), and the Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force (Task Force).

The "Nevada Energy Efficiency Strategy" considers 14 energy policy options for reducing electricity and natural gas consumption through greater energy efficiency. The options range from expanding utility energy efficiency programs, to upgrading building construction energy codes, to adopting energy pricing structures that will encourage reduced electricity demand when demand is greatest. Seven of the policy options are designated highest priority.