Regional News Briefs

2009 Archives

December

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

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) unanimously approved strong Energy Efficiency Resource Standards for investor-owned electric utilities as well as 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. Electric distribution cooperatives are required to meet 75% of the standard in any year. Utilities can count energy supply from combined heat and power systems that do not qualify under the state's Renewable Energy Standards towards the standard, as well as 1/3 of the measured savings from new building codes. Utilities are allowed to credit energy savings achieved during 2005-2010 towards the requirements beginning in 2016. These energy efficiency standards are among the most ambitious approved by any state in the country (see ACCEE summary). SWEEP helped the ACC develop the standards through workshops during 2009, and testified to support their approval.

Arizona Commission Approves Big Expansion of Energy Efficiency Programs for APS

On Dec. 16, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approved a rate case settlement agreement for Arizona Public Service Company (APS). The ACC's decision adopted the demand-side management (DSM) goals and revised utility performance incentive mechanism included in the settlement agreement presented to the ACC in June. The energy efficiency goals are to achieve annual energy savings of 1.0% in 2010, 1.25% in 2011, and 1.5% in 2012, expressed as a percent of the total energy resources needed to meet retail load. APS will significantly expand its programs to meet these goals, as evidenced by the ACC also approving part of APS's 2010 Energy Efficiency Implementation Plan during the same meeting. The estimated total budget for energy efficiency programs in 2010 (including the estimated shareholder incentive) is $50 million, approximately twice what APS spent on energy efficiency programs in 2009. SWEEP was an intervenor in these dockets and had a strong influence on the outcomes.

SWEEP Awarded Grant to Develop Green Building Program for Denver Metro Area

SWEEP has been awarded a grant to work with Denver metropolitan building departments to develop a voluntary cross-jurisdictional green building program based on national codes. The $65,800 award was one of 14 New Energy Economic Development (NEED) grants announced by Colorado Governor’s Energy Office on December 11. The NEED grants, which total about $1.5 million and are funded by the Recovery Act, will go to recipients across Colorado for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that will help create and retain jobs, strengthen local economies, and save money and energy.

National Research Council Reports on Nation's Energy Efficiency Potential

The National Research Council (NRC), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, has released a new report titled Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States. The report concludes that existing and emerging energy efficiency technologies could reduce U.S. energy consumption 17-20% by 2020 and 25-31% by 2030, enough energy savings to eliminate the need for any new electricity generation capacity through 2030. The report also concluded that major energy efficiency policies and programs implemented over the past 35 years saved more energy as of 2006 than was supplied by nuclear and hydroelectric power combined. Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director, was a member of the Panel that prepared the report. To read the NRC report online or order a copy, visit http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12621.

DRCOG Board Adopts Transportation Sustainability Goals

In November, the board of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) adopted a new direction for transportation and land use planning for the Denver metropolitan region. The decision followed a briefing by SWEEP Transportation Program Director Bob Yuhnke on the strategies for reducing vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analyzed in the SWEEP report, Colorado Transportation Blueprint for the New Energy Economy. The analysis indicates that by locating 80% of new jobs and housing between now and 2050 within walking and bicycling distance of FasTracks stations, VMT will drop by about 1% each year. This would cut annual CO2 emissions from light duty vehicles by 10 million tons by 2040, reduce fuel costs in the region by $4.4 billion, improve traffic conditions, and reduce the need for new highway capacity.

The Sustainability Proposal, formally adopted as the official action of the DRCOG Board, directs staff to model the following goals for the region:

  • Capture 50% of all new housing and 75% all new jobs within existing urban centers;
  • Reduce mode share of SOV’s to 70% by 2020;
  • Reduce water use 13.5%;
  • Reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2020; and
  • Reduce VMT 5% by 2020.

For more information:

November

SWEEP Hosts Sixth Annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop

On November 9 and 10, 2009, regional and national energy efficiency professionals gathered in Phoenix to hear the state of energy efficiency in the Southwest, and to learn about new and emerging program strategies, technologies and financing mechanisms that will reduce barriers to and result in greater energy efficiency adoption across the region.

SWEEP's sixth annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop provided a forum for utility representatives and others to hear the latest on demand-side management program development from the region's utilities, get updated on state policy efforts, and learn about emerging energy efficiency policies and technologies. Attendees included regional utility, regulatory, state, and nonprofit representatives, all of whom were provided ample opportunities for networking and informal information sharing. This year's workshop was sponsored by Arizona Public Service Company, Salt River Project, Southwest Gas Corporation, and Tucson Electric Power.

Workshop presentations and other materials are available here.

SWEEP Announces 2009 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award Winners

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is pleased to announce that Dan Dent of Questar Gas Company and Larry Holmes of Nevada Energy are the winners of its 2009 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards. The awards are given annually to individuals who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest.

Dan Dent is the Director of Demand-Side Management at Questar Gas Company in Salt Lake City, UT. Mr. Dent oversees all energy efficiency and demand-side management programs implemented by Questar Gas Company. SWEEP is honoring Mr. Dent because Questar Gas Company operated the most effective and well-funded energy efficiency programs of any gas utility in the region as of 2008-2009. Under Mr. Dent’s leadership, Questar has become a model gas utility with respect to promotion of more efficient natural gas use. Questar estimates it will spend $48 million on energy efficiency programs in 2009 and thereby help its customers save over 8 million therms of gas per year.

Larry Holmes is the Director of Demand-Side Management at Nevada Energy in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Holmes oversees all energy efficiency and demand-side management programs implemented by Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company. SWEEP is honoring Mr. Holmes because the Nevada utilities operated the most effective and well-funded energy efficiency programs of any electric utility in the region as of 2008. Under Mr. Holmes’s leadership, Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power helped its customers save over 400 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, about 1.3 percent of the retail sales of the two utilities, through efficiency programs implemented in 2008. Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power spent about $58 million on energy efficiency programs in 2008.

October

Some Southwest States Rise, Others Fall in State Energy Efficiency Rankings

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The new scorecard shows Colorado rising from 24th place last year to 16th place this year, tied with Nevada. Also, Utah has moved up to 23rd place. However, New Mexico and Arizona have dropped in rankings. And Wyoming continues in last place among all states and the District of Columbia. ACEEE scores states in the categories of electric and gas utility energy efficiency programs and policies, transportation policies, building energy codes, promotion of combined heat and power, state government initiatives, and appliance efficiency standards.

Federal Report Proposes Expanding Green Jobs and Energy Efficiency

On October 19, Vice President Biden announced the release of Recovery Through Retrofit, a report that builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. The report found that energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce energy use by up to 40% per home, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 160 million metric tons annually, and cut home energy bills by $21 billion annually by 2020. The White House Council on Environmental Quality facilitated a broad interagency process to develop these recommendations for how to use existing authority and funding to accomplish the goal of fostering a self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry.

Colorado PUC Issues Energy Efficiency Status Report

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has issued a report reviewing the status of electric and natural gas utility demand-side management (DSM) programs in the state. The report examines energy savings targets, how these targets compare to the energy savings goals in the state's Climate Action Plan, policy and technology innovations that will impact utility DSM programs, the relationship between Recovery Act-funded energy efficiency programs and utility programs, and other non-utility energy efficiency initiatives now underway or planned. The report includes a series of recommendations for utilities, the PUC, and the Governor's Energy Office. For a copy of the PUC report, click here.

Recent Innovations in Financing for Clean Energy

In recent years, there has been considerable progress in developing innovative and effective strategies for financing energy efficiency and solar energy projects that are implemented by homeowners and businesses. These strategies are reviewed and profiled in a new report titled Recent Innovations in Financing for Clean Energy, published October 19 by SWEEP. The report covers a variety of financing strategies including private sector loans using public capital, on-bill utility financing, public sector financing with property tax-based loan repayment, and home mortgage-based financing. The report finds that different types of programs fill different market niches, and that some programs are meeting with considerable success in spite of being relatively new.

Utah Commission Updates Procedures for Evaluation of DSM Programs

The Utah Public Commission has updated its rules concerning how utilities should evaluate DSM programs in the state. Among its findings, the Commission has indicated that the Utility Cost Test should be the primary test for determining whether or not potential DSM programs are cost effective. This will make it easier for programs to pass cost effectiveness analysis. The new rules also streamline program approval and prudence review procedures, and better integrate DSM planning and analysis with overall utility resource planning. For a copy of the updated rules, click here.

DOE Renews Funding for the Intermountain CHP Center

The ETC Group and SWEEP were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to continue jointly running the Intermountain Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Center. Over the next few years, the Center will expand its scope to promote waste heat recovery and district energy along with traditional combined heat and power, and as such, will change its name to the Intermountain Clean Energy Application Center. In part due to the efforts of the CHP application centers throughout the nation, the U.S. is well on the way to meeting the goal of doubling CHP capacity from 46 GW in 1998 to 92 GW by 2010. Last year saw 85 GW of installed CHP capacity, representing 9% of the total U.S. electric generating capacity. For more information on the mission and activities of the Intermountain CHP Center, visit www.IntermountainCHP.org.

SWEEP Files Testimony Proposing Strong Inverted Block Rates in Colorado

SWEEP has proposed inverted block (tiered) rates for residential customers served by Xcel Energy, with the price per kWh increasing significantly as electricity use increases. This policy would strengthen the economic incentive that most customers would have to conserve electricity especially in summer months. The testimony was filed in a rate case for Xcel Energy, the main electric utility in Colorado. For a copy of our testimony, click here.

September

Rocky Mountain Power Receives Approval to Increase DSM Surcharge

The Utah Public Service Commission has approved allowing Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) to increase its utility bill surcharge to pay for demand-side management (DSM) programs to 4.6%. This amount was recommended to the Commission in a settlement agreement reached by the utility, staff of the Commission, residential and industrial customer representatives, SWEEP and other parties. RMP plans to spend about $65 million on cost-effective DSM programs in 2009, thereby helping its customers save over $150 million on their utility bills. RMP is the main electric utility serving approximately 800,000 customers in Utah. For a copy of the Commission's order, click here.

Albuquerque City Council Approves Amended Green Building Code

On August 3rd, the Albuquerque City Council approved a new version of the City's Green Building Ordinance for new residential and commercial buildings. The new building code updates a previous version adopted in 2007. It includes more stringent energy efficiency requirements in a number of areas and also addresses a legal challenge to the 2007 ordinance filed by manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment. SWEEP assisted Albuquerque with the development of and advocacy for this state-of-the-art building energy code. The new Albuquerque Energy Conservation Code will take effect Dec. 1, 2009, and can be downloaded in two volumes below:

July

Nevada Power Proposes Big Boost in 2010-2012 Energy Efficiency Programs

Nevada Power Company has filed its 2010-2012 demand-side management (DSM) program plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN). The plan calls for spending $95 million in 2010, $108 million in 2011, and $124 million on 19 different DSM programs. The proposed DSM budget represents over 4% of projected retail sales revenue during this period. For comparison, the utility expects to spend $49 million implementing 17 programs in 2009. Nevada Power estimates its 2010-2012 programs will have an average benefit-cost ratio of 2.17 and will save about 3.6% of retail electricity sales; i.e., each year the programs will save the equivalent of about 1.2% of sales. SWEEP assisted the utility as it developed its expanded DSM plan, which will now be reviewed and acted upon by the PUCN. Nevada Power Co. serves about 830,000 customers in southern Nevada. Nevada Power's DSM plan can be downloaded in three parts.

Tracking Recovery Act Energy Funding in the Southwest

SWEEP has created a new web page to track energy efficiency funding and project implementation made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which directed $16.8 billion to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and initiatives. Much of the federal funding is made available through grants to states and municipalities, and new programs and incentives are being initiated across the southwest. SWEEP's Recovery Act page includes copies of the State Energy Program (SEP) plans for each of our southwestern states, links to state and national Recovery Act tracking sites, and will include regularly updated info on program and project implementation as it becomes available.

Market Shares for ENERGY STAR New Homes in 2008: Southwest States Continue To Shine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released market share data for ENERGY STAR new homes in 2008. Nationwide nearly 17% of new single family homes earned the ENERGY STAR label in 2008, up from 12% in 2007. But most Southwest states had ENERGY STAR home market shares far above the national average. The market shares were 63% in Nevada, 37% in Utah, 31% in Arizona, 19% in Colorado, and 13% in New Mexico. Utah jumped from a market share of 16% in 2007 to 37% in 2008 in large part due to the impact of utility education and incentive programs. The market shares also increased from 49% to 63% in Nevada and from 8% to 19% in Colorado over this one-year period. For more information, see the ENERGY STAR webpage for 2008 new homes market indices for states.

SWEEP 2009 Legislative Activities Report

The 2009 legislative sessions in the southwestern states have concluded with a number of significant advances for energy efficiency in the region. SWEEP actively engaged in each session to advance energy efficiency through sound and effective legislation, supporting a total of seventeen bills that became law in 2009. Milestones in each state include:

  • strengthening energy savings performance contracting for schools and establishing efficiency standards for pool pumps and spas in Arizona;
  • significant advances in transportation efficiency in Colorado;
  • creation of a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority, and passage of numerous other energy efficiency measures in Nevada;
  • expanding incentives for sustainable building, and removing disincentives for public utility DSM programming in New Mexico; and
  • a Joint Resolution which sets annual energy savings goals for electric and natural gas utilities in Utah.

For details on SWEEP's legislative efforts, along with information on the outcome of energy efficiency bills in each state, see our 2009 Legislative Activities Report.

Updated State Energy Efficiency Fact Sheets Available

SWEEP has recently updated the State Fact Sheets on Energy Efficiency and Energy Consumption. These three-page PDF fact sheets, based on statistics from the US Census and the DOE Energy Information Administration, serve as a handy quick reference and a primer on energy consumption and energy efficiency efforts being implemented in each of the southwestern states.

Colorado Transportation Blueprint for the New Energy Economy

On July 27, SWEEP released the Colorado Transportation Blueprint for the New Energy Economy, a new report which concludes that projected CO2 emissions in 2040 can be reduced by over 40% while simultaneously reducing transportation costs, saving consumers billions of dollars, and supporting thousands of new jobs in the state. The Blueprint demonstrates that about $34 billion in net economic savings can be achieved between 2010 and 2040 by: 1) replacing gasoline fueled cars and diesel trucks with battery powered motors that can be charged nightly from the grid by electricity generated in Colorado; 2) accommodating future growth by co-locating new development with enhanced transit services to provide mobility that is faster, less expensive and more convenient than auto trips; and 3) improving the fuel efficiency of existing vehicles.

June

Public Service Company of New Mexico Receives Approval to Expand DSM Programs

On May 19, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a settlement agreement regarding demand-side management (DSM) programs to be implemented by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). The agreement calls for PNM to spend $14 million per year on nine DSM programs starting in July 2009. The programs are designed to save 59 million kWh of electricity per year, equivalent to about 0.63% of PNM's retail electricity sales. This is more than double the amount of electricity savings PNM was pursuing through its previous set of DSM programs. SWEEP urged PNM to expand its DSM programs and participated in the settlement agreement. For details regarding PNM's new DSM plan, click here.

Settlement Reached in Rocky Mountain Power Rate Design Case

On June 3, a settlement was reached in the rate design phase of a rate case filed by Rocky Mountain Power in Utah. The settlement includes an increase in the spread of the inverted block rates for residential customers during the summer. If the settlement is approved by the Utah Public Service Commission, customers will pay 11.1 cents per kWh for consumption over 1,000 kWh during the months of May-September. At the present time customers pay about 10.4 cents per kWh for consumption in this block. The settlement also lowers the rate for consumption of the first 400 kWh per month in the summer from about 7.8 cents per kWh to 7.5 cents per kWh. SWEEP participated in the rate case and advocated for a higher spread in the block rates as this gives consumers greater incentive to limit electricity usage in summer months. Rocky Mountain Power, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, is the main electric utility in Utah. For a copy of the rate design settlement, click here.

Governor Ritter Signs Tax Incentives Legislation for Advanced, Fuel Efficient Vehicles

On June 4, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law House Bill 09-1331, A Bill Concerning Incentives for Efficient Motor Vehicles. SWEEP helped to develop and support this legislation, which establishes minimum fuel economy requirements for hybrid electric vehicles eligible for state income tax credits, reduces the magnitude of the tax credits for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles over time, and establishes new state income tax credits for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles purchased by Colorado residents during 2010-2015. For a copy of the bill, click here.

Rocky Mountain Power in Midst of a Major Expansion of DSM Programs in Utah

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), the main electric utility in Utah, anticipates it will spend about $65 million on DSM programs in 2009, up from $36 million in 2008. The utility is experiencing much greater participation in its home energy savings program, air conditioning efficiency program, and irrigation load control program. RMP projects it will help its customers save about 260 million kWh per year through DSM programs implemented in 2009, equivalent to about 1.2% of the utility's retail electricity sales and about 45% more than savings achieved through programs implemented in 2008. The utility continues to view DSM as its lowest cost resource, with customers saving nearly $2.50 for each $1 that the utility spends on its DSM programs. RMP is requesting an increase in the utility bill surcharge that pays for DSM programs, both to pay for anticipated DSM program costs this coming year and to compensate the utility for unrecovered DSM costs in previous years. For a copy of RMP's request to the Utah Public Service Commission, click here.

$10 Million in First EPA Grants to Develop Climate Change Showcase Communities

In a June 15 press release, EPA announced the availability of up to $10 million in first of its kind, "Climate Showcase Communities" grants to local and tribal governments to establish and implement climate change initiatives that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA requests proposals to create replicable models of sustainable community action, generate cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions, and improve the environmental, economic, public health, and social conditions in a community. The agency expects to award approximately 30 cooperative agreements, each one ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Approximately 5 percent of the funds ($500,000) are set-asides for tribal governments and intertribal consortia.

For additional grant information, visit http://epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-programs/state-and-local/showcase.html

Wyoming Commission Approves Energy Efficiency Programs and Decoupling for Questar Gas Company

On June 17, Questar Gas Company received approval from the Wyoming Public Service Commission to implement four energy efficiency programs and also decouple its retail sales and fixed cost recovery on a three-year pilot basis. The decoupling policy, termed a conservation enabling tariff by Questar, is modeled on a policy adopted in Utah where Questar is implementing a robust and effective set of energy efficiency programs. Questar Gas Company serves about 26,000 customers in Wyoming. For a copy of the Commission order in this docket, click here.

Obama Approves $1 Billion Rebate Program to Trade-in Guzzlers for Sippers

President Obama recently approved legislation that directs $1 billion toward rebates for US residents who trade in their cars or trucks for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Under the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), buyers stand to receive up to $4,500 toward the purchase or lease of a new car or truck that meets the necessary criteria. To achieve the objective of removing older, less efficient vehicles from the roads, vehicles traded under this program will have to be permanently disabled and/or scrapped. The act provides enough funding for roughly 250,000 trade-ins. The rebates will be in effect July 24 through the end of October, or until dealers provide $1 billion in rebates, whichever comes first. For passenger automobiles, the car to be traded must be drivable, have a fuel economy rating of 18 miles-per-gallon or less, and be registered and insured for the full year prior to the trade in. To get a rebate, the new car must cost no more than $45,000. To receive the maximum rebate, the new car must have a fuel economy rating of at least 10 miles-per-gallon greater than the car to be traded. A smaller rebate is available if the new car gets just four miles-per-gallon better gas mileage. Comparable standards are in place for SUV's and trucks. For more information visit www.cars.gov.

May

Settlement Reached in Black Hills Energy DSM Docket

SWEEP, Black Hills Energy, and all other interveners have reached a settlement agreement regarding the demand-side management (DSM) plan prepared by Black Hills. The utility has agreed to spend $10 million over three years implementing 12 different energy efficiency and load management programs for its residential and business customers. The utility also agreed to accept the same energy savings goals and the performance incentive mechanism that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted for Xcel Energy in 2008. Black Hills Energy supplies electricity to about 94,000 customers in Pueblo, CO and nearby areas. The settlement will now be reviewed and acted upon by the PUC. For a copy of the settlement agreement, click here.

Energy Efficiency Improvement Means More Jobs in Colorado

On April 30, SWEEP released a new report which indicates that aggressively pursuing energy efficiency is a winning strategy for Colorado's workers. Energy Efficiency and Job Creation in Colorado examines the impacts that implementing the key energy efficiency initiatives in Governor Ritter's Colorado Climate Action Plan would have on employment and income in the state. The report finds that increasing the efficiency of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline use would lead to a net increase of 4,660 jobs in Colorado by 2015 and 11,600 jobs by 2025. Download the complete report and the press release.

EPA Proposes New Guidelines for ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising the guidelines for ENERGY STAR qualified new homes. Significant changes in the proposed ENERGY STAR 2011 guidelines include the use of a unique HERS Index Target value for each home, rather than a fixed national or regional HERS Index threshold. The proposal establishes additional mandatory requirements such as thermal flow, air flow and moisture flow, and mandates inclusion of high efficiency equipment and products, with new requirements for energy-efficient lighting, appliances, water distribution systems, and low flow shower heads. Larger homes will be subject to a "esize" adjustment factor that will require additional energy efficiency measures. State energy codes will be incorporated by reference into the new ENERGY STAR guidelines and will replace relevant ENERGY STAR requirements whenever State code is more rigorous. EPA will accept comments on the proposed ENERGY STAR 2011 guidelines through July 10, 2009.

April

EPA releases the First Portion of the Rapid Deployment Energy Efficiency (RDEE) Toolkit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the first portion of the Rapid Deployment Energy Efficiency (RDEE) Toolkit - The Planning Guide - to help states, local governments, and other program administrators to design and implement effective programs. The Planning Guide presents the information that the recipients of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding need to plan the early stages of the programs included in the RDEE Toolkit.

This information in the Guide includes program summary; target market; evaluation, monitoring, and verification requirements; infrastructure requirements; training requirements; staffing requirements; Implementation timeline; energy savings; participation rates; total budget; job creation estimates; cost-effectiveness; resources and assistance; and a brief overview of the energy efficiency-related funding opportunities set forth in the ARRA.

Click here for more information on the Toolkit.

Congratulations to 2009 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest!

On March 31, EPA and DOE honored businesses and organizations for their outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency at the 2009 ENERGY STAR Awards ceremony. Seven award winners were in the Southwest region.

Nevada ENERGY STAR Partners received an ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence, recognizing their outstanding commitment to and success in promoting ENERGY STAR qualified new homes in the greater Las Vegas market. This is the fifth time this partner coalition has received ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence recognition.

Six organizations with operations in our region were honored as ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for their exemplary efforts to promote and expand the market for energy-efficient homes. They are:

  • Arizona Public Service
  • Colorado Governor's Energy Office
  • Energy Inspectors Corporation (Las Vegas, NV)
  • EnergyLogic (Berthoud, CO)
  • Rocky Mountain Power, a Division of Pacificorp
  • Xcel Energy

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

Southwest Utilities Report Strong Energy Savings Results in 2008

Two electric utilities, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), report that they exceeded their 2008 energy savings goals by wide margins. PNM indicates it saved 35.2 GWh per year from its 2008 demand-side management (DSM) programs, 27% more than the utility's savings target. The utility's residential lighting program was particularly effective with over 1 million compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) purchased. The utility also exceeded its peak demand reduction goal by a wide margin. For a copy of PNM's 2008 Electric Energy Efficiency Annual Report, In Utah, Rocky Mountain Power reports it saved 195 GWh per year from its 2008 DSM programs, 21% more than the goal. RMP had success with both its residential and business energy efficiency programs.

Arizona Utility Announces Plans for Expanding Energy Efficiency Programs

The Salt River Project (SRP) has announced it will ramp up its energy efficiency and load management programs from a total budget of about $11 million in fiscal year 2008 to $30 million in 2010 and nearly $55 million in 2012. Electricity savings from programs implemented annually are expected to reach nearly 1% of the utility's annual electricity sales by 2011. SRP is a publicly owned, non-regulated utility serving 935,000 customers in the metro Phoenix and surrounding areas. It is the second largest electric utility in Arizona in terms of number of customers and retail electricity sales. SWEEP has been urging SRP to expand its energy efficiency programs and helping the utility with program design.

Settlement Reached in APS Rate Case, Will Expand Energy Efficiency Programs

Arizona Public Service Company (APS), SWEEP, and other interveners have reached a settlement agreement in the docket opened by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to consider APS's application for a rate increase. The settlement includes establishing ambitious energy savings goals, defined as a percent of total energy resources to meet load, of 1% savings from efficiency programs implemented in 2010, 1.25% savings from programs in 2011, and 1.5% savings from programs in 2012. The settlement also includes new performance-based incentives that will reward APS for meeting and exceeding these energy savings goals. SWEEP estimates that the goals will lead APS to expand its funding for energy efficiency programs from about $25 million per year as of 2009 to approximately $70 million per year by 2012. APS supplies electricity to about 1.1 million customers in Phoenix and nearby areas. The settlement will now be reviewed and acted upon by the ACC. For a copy of the settlement agreement, click here.

March

Colorado Passes FASTER Transportation Legislation with Dedicated Transit Funding

On March 2, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed SB 108, the FASTER transportation bill, which will save and create thousands of jobs, strengthen Colorado's economy and allow the state to repair unsafe bridges and roadways. Conservationists support the legislation for providing dedicated funding for transit and other energy-efficient transportation options.

SWEEP worked with the Colorado Environmental Coalition, Environment Colorado and other groups to win support for three programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector:

  • dedicated transit funding
  • a pilot program to investigate VMT- and CO2 emission-based fees as the primary revenue source for the state transportation system
  • authority to establish user fees on existing major highways.

The final bill dedicated $15 million annually to fund transit and bike/pedestrian safety programs. This is the first time Colorado has ever created a dedicated funding source for statewide transit programs. The bill also authorizes a newly created tolling authority to impose user fees on major corridors with the agreement of affected local governments. SWEEP's transportation director, Bob Yuhnke, testified to the House Transportation committee in support of user fees as an important tool for reducing CO2 emissions from transportation by giving drivers an incentive to choose alternatives to single occupant vehicle travel. The pilot program to investigate statewide VMT and CO2 emissions-based fees was dropped by the Senate before the bill was reported to the House.

SWEEP is currently developing a Colorado Blueprint for Reducing CO2 Emissions from Transportation for release later this spring. The Blueprint will identify a suite of strategies that can be implemented by the State, and will include proposals for future legislation.

Utah Legislature Approves Resolution to Advance Utility Energy Efficiency Programs

In a unanimous vote on March 12, 2009, the Utah State Legislature ensured that Utah is on its way to becoming a leader in innovative utility energy efficiency by approving HJR 9, a joint resolution promoting cost-effective energy efficiency and utility Demand Side Management (DSM) programs. The resolution recognizes energy efficiency as a priority resource for Utah and encourages the removal of financial disincentives that utilities often face when offering efficiency programs that assist customers in saving energy. HJR 9 will help open the door for new and expanded energy efficiency programs through utility regulatory mechanisms, such as performance-based incentives, decoupling and innovative rate designs.

SWEEP Submits Testimony Concerning Black Hills Energy's DSM Programs

SWEEP's Executive Director, Howard Geller, submitted testimony to the Public Utilities Commission of Colorado concerning the 2009-2011 demand-side management (DSM) plan submitted by Black Hills Energy (BHE). BHE serves about 93,000 electric customers in Pueblo, CO and nearby areas. SWEEP is recommending higher energy savings goals and a more comprehensive set of DSM programs that those proposed by BHE. SWEEP recommends that Black Hills spend $11.6 million on DSM programs over a three-year period. The Colorado PUC is expected to rule on the matter by June. For a copy of SWEEP's testimony, click here.

Southwest Gas Submits DSM Plan in Nevada

On March 16, Southwest Gas submitted a demand-side management (DSM) plan in Nevada. Southwest provides natural gas service to 642,000 customers in 13 counties in the state. The plan proposes five residential and three commercial programs, including a residential energy-efficient consumer products program; an ENERGY STAR home program; a low-income energy conservation program; an energy education program; a solar thermal advantage rebate program; a commercial energy-efficient equipment program; a commercial energy audit program; and a technology information center program. Southwest proposes an initial annual budget of about $2.85 million, approximately one-half percent of its Nevada revenues. For a copy of the Southwest Gas DSM plan, click here.

Santa Fe Adopts Residential Green Building Code

The City of Santa Fe has adopted a new Residential Green Building Code, requiring all new single-family residential units to be tested and certified according to the Enhancements to the National Home Energy Rating Standards (HERS). The Code offers eight levels of certification, with progressive requirements based on the size of the home. New homes up to 3000 square feet must have a HERS Index of 70, performing 30% better than a standard home. Very large homes (over 8,000 square feet) must attain a HERS Index of 0, which means they must produce at least as much energy as they consume. In addition to the HERS rating, homes must earn points in five other green building categories. The Residential Green Building Code Checklist and Administrative Procedures manual are available on the City of Santa Fe website.

DOE Releases Guidance on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the guidance and the allocations to states, cities and counties for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program funded in the Stimulus Bill. See the links below. Over $2.6 billion is available nationwide. Funds can be used for audit and retrofit programs, financial incentive and loan programs, building codes, retrofit of government buildings, combined heat and power systems, transportation programs to save energy, development of a local energy efficiency strategy, and more. Cities and counties need to apply for the funds by June 25, 2009; states by May 26, 2009. For a copy of the funding notice, see www.eecbg.energy.gov. The allocations to cities and counties are also posted at: www.eecbg.energy.gov/GrantAlloc.html.

February

Testimony on Utility DSM Programs in New Mexico

SWEEP's Executive Director, Howard Geller, prepared testimony on the 2009 demand-side management (DSM) program plans submitted by Public Service Company of New Mexico and Southwestern Public Service Company. The testimony was sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, a public interest coalition that SWEEP belongs to. Both utilities proposed substantial expansion of their DSM programs in 2009, but Geller argues that additional investment in energy efficiency measures and programs is warranted. The utility DSM plans are under review by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. For copies of Geller's testimony in each docket, click on Public Service Company of New Mexico and Southwestern Public Service Company.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Agrees to Study Energy Efficiency Potential

Tri-State Generation and Transmission, a cooperative utility that provides power to 44 rural electric cooperatives in Colorado and nearby states, has agreed to analyze the energy efficiency potential in the service area of its members. The agreement was part of a settlement between Tri-State and Environment Colorado in a water court case. SWEEP will assist Tri-State and Environment Colorado in designing and reviewing the study. The study should help Tri-State and its members recognize that energy efficiency is a large and very cost-effective resource. For a copy of the agreement, click here.

Arizona Public Service Company Proposes Additional Investment in Energy Efficiency Resources

In its newly released 2009-2025 resource plan, Arizona Public Service Company (APS) has called for expanding investment in energy efficiency programs from about $23 million per year in 2009 to $90 million per year by 2016 and thereafter. APS is proposing to save 3,261 GWh per year by 2025 as result of efficiency programs implemented during 2009-2025. In the plan APS notes that "Energy efficiency is the only resource option available at this time that can provide economic benefits as compared to conventional or renewable resource options while also providing environmental benefits and other risk reduction benefits." The resource plan is now being reviewed by the Arizona Corporation Commission. As part of this review, SWEEP is advocating for higher energy savings goals and a faster ramp-up in energy efficiency program funding. For a copy of APS's resource plan, click here.

Stimulus Act Increases Energy Efficiency Funding and Expands Tax Credits for Homes and Businesses

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on February 17, provides $16.8 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and initiatives. This nearly tenfold increase from 2008 funding levels includes $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $3.1 billion for State Energy Programs, and $3.2 billion for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. In addition, $4.5 billion is allocated to converting federal buildings into high-performance green buildings, and $4.7 billion to retrofit HUD public housing.

The act also dramatically expands tax credits for clean energy projects at homes and businesses. For homeowners, the act increases a 10% tax credit for energy efficiency improvements to a 30% tax credit, eliminates caps for specific improvements (such as windows and furnaces), and instead establishes an aggregate cap of $1,500 for all improvements placed in service in 2009 and 2010. The act also tightens the energy efficiency requirements to meet current standards.

For businesses and individuals buying electric vehicles, the act simplifies and expands the available tax credits For electric low-speed vehicles, motorcycles, and three-wheeled vehicles, a 10% tax credit (up to $2500) is available through 2011. A 10% tax credit (up to $4000) is also available for vehicles converted into qualified plug-in electric vehicles. Starting in 2010, full-scale commercial plug-in electric vehicles can earn a maximum tax credit of $7,500.

For more details on these and other energy efficiency provisions of the act, see the news releases from the USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on the Stimulus Act and Clean Energy Tax Credits. Also, a summary table of specific tax credits for homes and businesses is available on the ENERGY STAR website.

January

New Mexico Energy Efficiency Strategy Released

Joanna Prukop, Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), announced the release of a new report titled New Mexico Energy Efficiency Strategy: Policy Options. The report was prepared by SWEEP at the request of EMNRD. It examines 25 policy options that taken together can cut energy use per capita in New Mexico 20 percent by 2020. The study estimates that implementing all 25 options would result in $7.2 billion in net economic savings for New Mexico's citizens and businesses. The study is helping to guide new and expanded energy efficiency initiatives in the state. For a copy of the study, click here. For a copy of the press release issued by EMNRD, click here.

Fort Collins Adopts New Energy Policy with Ambitious Energy Efficiency Goals

The City of Fort Collins, CO has adopted a revised energy policy that commits the city to achieve annual energy efficiency and conservation program savings of at least 1.5% of annual electricity use; i.e. realizing 15% savings after ten years. Achieving the goal will require significant expansion of the city's already substantial efficiency and conservation programs. The new policy also commits the city to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. For a copy of the Fort Collins 2009 Energy Policy, click here.