Regional News Briefs

2011 Archives

December

Arizona Corporation Commision Approves Full Decoupling Mechanism for Southwest Gas

On Tuesday, December 13th, the bipartisan Arizona Corporation Commission modernized utility rate setting for Southwest Gas, by approving a full revenue decoupling mechanism as part of the natural gas utility’s general rate case. Traditional regulation is built on energy consumption; it links energy sales to the recovery of utility fixed costs, encouraging utilities to sell more energy. Decoupling severs the link between utility recovery of fixed cost and energy sales, allowing utilities to pursue energy efficiency – the least expensive energy resource available – without compromising their ability to recover the fixed costs associated with the delivery of safe, reliable service. Recognizing the customer, economic, and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, the Arizona Corporation Commission adopted last year an efficiency standard requiring natural gas utilities to achieve 6 percent energy savings by 2020. The Commission also adopted a decoupling policy statement outlining how utilities should update rate-setting practices to promote energy efficiency and its associated benefits.  SWEEP supported the Southwest Gas decoupling proposal.

The text of the Commission's decision is not yet available. Following is a link to the Recommended Opinion and Order by the ACC Hearing Division which the Commission subsequently approved.

 

SWEEP Announces 2011 Energy Efficiency Award Winners

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is pleased to announce that Deborah Kimberly, Denise Richerson-Smith, and James Wontor are the winners of its 2011 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards. The awards are given annually to individuals who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest.

James Wontor leads the energy efficiency programs implemented by Arizona Public Service Company, Denise Richerson-Smith leads energy efficiency programs implemented by Tucson Electric Power, and Deborah Kimberly leads energy efficiency programs implemented by the Salt River Project. All three electric utilities operating in Arizona have greatly expanded their energy efficiency programs in recent years, with a combined budget increasing from about $40 million in 2008 to $130 million in 2011. Households and businesses in Arizona are saving hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of the energy efficiency programs implemented under the leadership of these three individuals.

 

SWEEP Hosts Eighth Annual Southwest Energy Efficiency Workshop in Salt Lake City

On December 8 and 9, 2011, regional and national energy efficiency professionals gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah to hear the state of energy efficiency in the Southwest, and to learn about new and emerging policy opportunities and technologies that will result in greater energy efficiency adoption across the region.
 
SWEEP's Eighth Annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop provided a forum for 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 policy efforts, and learn about emerging energy efficiency policies and technologies. The workshop featured a keynote address delivered by Claire Fulenwider, former Executive Director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, as well as several other presentations by prominent regional and national energy efficiency leaders. In addition, the 2011 workshop included the presentation of SWEEP's Annual "Leadership in Energy Efficiency" Awards, given to individuals who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest. The 2011 workshop was sponsored by Questar Gas Company and Rocky Mountain Power.

 

November

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Affirms Legality of Incentive Adder for Utility Energy Efficiency Programs

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) issued an Order on November 3 stating that Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) can continue collecting an Adder in addition to recovering DSM program costs. The Adder is intended to allow the utility to make a reasonable profit on its cost-effective energy efficiency programs as well as remove any financial disincentive that PNM has when it helps its customers save energy. The Adder is based on DSM program performance, namely the level of energy savings and peak demand reduction achieved.  The legality of the Adder was called into question by a New Mexico Supreme Court decision. In its Order, the PRC stated that the Adder it had previously approved was evidence-based, cost-based and utility specific, as required by the Supreme Court.  

 

Presentations from the ACEEE 2011 National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource Now Available

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) brought its national conference on utility energy efficiency policy and programs to the Rocky Mountain region for the first time in 2011. The well-attended biennial conference brought together industry leaders to discuss the use of energy efficiency as a key resource for meeting utility system needs and important advances being made in the design and delivery of energy efficiency programs. The conference included plenary addresses by Howard Geller, Executive Director of SWEEP; Jeff Guldner, a Vice President at Arizona Public Service Company; and Jay Herrmann, a Vice President at Xcel Energy. All of the presentations from the 2011 National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource are now available on the ACEEE website.

 

Xcel Energy 2012-13 DSM Plan: Settlement Agreement Filed with the Colorado PUC

Xcel Energy and interveners have reached agreement concerning modifications to Xcel Energy’s 2012-13 DSM plan for its electric and natural gas customers in Colorado. The Settlement includes a number of recommendations made by SWEEP including addition of financing, showerhead, and air conditioner tune-up programs, expansion of the Company’s refrigerator recycling and Home Energy Reports programs, and issuing an RFP for innovative technology programs. In addition, Xcel has agreed to initiate a building code support pilot program starting in 2012. With the modifications included in the Settlement Agreement, Xcel projects that first year energy savings from its portfolio of DSM programs will increase by 38% in 2012 and 48% in 2013, relative to the level of energy savings Xcel targeted in 2011. The Settlement Agreement will now be reviewed and acted upon by the Public Utilities Commission of Colorado.

 

SWEEP Publishes New Report on Utility Energy Efficiency Finance Programs

SWEEP has published Energy Efficiency Finance: Options and Roles for Utilities, a report presenting the different approaches to energy efficiency finance by utilities.  The report includes case studies of eleven energy efficiency finance programs implemented by both large and small utilities, including detailed program descriptions and data on program results. The report shows that a variety of approaches to energy efficiency financing can be effective for expanding the implementation of major energy efficiency projects in both the residential and small commercial building sectors. The new SWEEP report was authored by Matthew Brown and Heather Braithwaite, energy efficiency finance experts based in Denver, CO.   

 

October

Southwest States Show Mixed Progress in New State Energy Efficiency Rankings

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its 2011 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The results for the SWEEP region are both positive and negative. Most notably, Colorado moved up from a ranking of 19th in 2010 to a ranking of 12th in 2011 due to growth in utility energy efficiency programs, progress on building energy codes, and other factors. Utah and Arizona are tied for 17th in the new Scorecard. But on the negative side, Nevada’s position declined from tied for 19th in 2010 to 22nd in 2011, and New Mexico’s ranking declined from 22nd to 27th.  In the ACEEE scorecard, states are ranked according to their energy efficiency policies and programs in a wide range of categories including utility, buildings and transportation sector policies as well as state government initiatives. The top three states in the 2011 scorecard were Massachusetts, California and New York.

 

SWEEP Releases Illustrative Guide on Energy Efficiency and Decoupling for Arizona

SWEEP's new illustrative guide explains how energy efficiency and decoupling will help Arizona boost its economy and protect utility customers against rising energy costs.  The guide describes the energy challenges facing Arizona, how increased energy efficiency is the best and least expensive solution for addressing these challenges, and how Arizona can evolve the utility business model to support increased energy efficiency for the benefit of Arizona consumers and businesses.  The guide also explains how decoupling better aligns the financial interests of utilities with the interests of customers and society, thereby leading to lower energy bills.  A companion FAQ has also been developed to answer questions about energy efficiency and decoupling.

 

September

U.S. DOE Publishes Going Beyond Code Guide

The newly released Going Beyond Code Guide can help state and local governments design and implement successful “beyond code” programs for new commercial and residential buildings. The guide includes lessons learned and best practices of existing programs across the U.S.  It address energy efficiency, water conservation, site development and land use, indoor air quality, and materials and resource conservation. This publication is an expansion of a previous SWEEP report, Going Beyond Code, A Guide to Creating Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings in the Southwest (2008).  The new version was prepared by U.S. DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program in collaboration with SWEEP.

 

Four Arizona Jurisdictions Adopt 2009 International Energy Conservation Code

The Cities of Mesa, Chandler, Avondale and Tempe have advanced energy efficiency in Arizona by becoming the first communities in the state to adopt the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The 2009 IECC represents a cost-effective solution for these communities to meet their current and future energy needs, and will also deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits for residents and businesses. SWEEP estimates that the 2009 IECC will deliver more than $200 in annual utility bill savings for Mesa's residents living in code-compliant homes. SWEEP was actively involved in advocating for adoption of the code in Mesa and Tempe.

 

Updated State Energy Fact Sheets Available

SWEEP has recently updated its State Fact Sheets on Energy Efficiency and Energy Consumption.  Based on statistics from the US Census and the DOE Energy Information Administration, the State Fact Sheets serve as a handy quick reference and a primer on energy consumption and energy efficiency efforts in each of the southwestern states. This year the State Fact Sheets have been expanded to include recently published housing characteristics data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

 

Southwest States Shine in Terms of ENERGY STAR New Home Construction in 2010

Construction of new homes is down, but those new homes being built in the southwest region are increasingly qualifying as ENERGY STAR new homes according to data just released by the U.S. EPA. In 2010, Nevada ranked second in the nation with 66% of new single family housing achieving ENERGY STAR qualification. In Arizona the ENERGY STAR market share was 52%, in Colorado it was 45%, in Utah it was 34%, and in New Mexico it was 29%. For comparison, the nationwide average in 2010 was 25%. Homes earn ENERGY STAR designation by meeting strict energy-efficiency requirements set by the EPA, including:

  • Effective insulation systems
  • High-performance windows
  • Quality construction to reduce leaks and drafts
  • Efficient heating and cooling equipment
  • ENERGY STAR qualified lighting and appliances.

Visit the ENERGY STAR website for more details.

 

Wyoming Commission Approves Expansion of Rocky Mountain Power’s DSM Programs

The Public Service Commission of Wyoming has approved a new DSM program plan submitted by Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), the main electric utility in Wyoming. According to the plan, RMP will increase its DSM program spending in Wyoming to over $7 million in 2012 and over $11 million in 2013. SWEEP intervened in the docket and proposed a number of modifications to RMP’s proposed DSM programs. The Commission directed RMP to evaluate in greater detail SWEEP’s recommendations. RMP, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, serves about 140,000 customers in Wyoming. 

 

USGBC Publishes Report on 2011 Green Building Legislation

SWEEP assisted the U.S. Green Building Council with the publication of Advancing Green Building Policy in the States: 2011 Victories from Alabama to Wyoming, released in August 2011. The report is a compilation of green building legislation that was introduced and/or passed in 2011.  Policies are categorized like a school yearbook, including “Most Popular”, “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Most Talkative.”  Policymakers, advocacy groups and others can use this report to fuel ideas for future legislative sessions.

 

August

Launch of NV Energy's Senior Energy Ambassador Program

NV Energy launched a new initiative called Senior Energy Ambassadors at the annual Senior Energy Expo this month.  Seventy-five seniors listened to presentations throughout the day encouraging them to become Energy Ambassadors.  Co-written by Monica Brett at SWEEP and Emily Huffman at NV Energy, this program will train these senior volunteers to take energy efficiency tips into their communities.  By seniors talking to seniors, the aim is to empower this sector of the population to take control of their energy usage.

 

Environmental Groups Release Clean Energy Vision for Western States

A set of clean energy and environmental advocacy groups have released Western Grid 2050: Contrasting Futures, Contrasting Fortunes. This in-depth study examines five trajectories for electricity use and supply in western states through 2050, including business-as-usual (BAU) as well as high energy efficiency, clean energy scenarios. The study shows that by emphasizing investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources along with retirement of aging, dirtier power plants, policy makers in the region can reduce total electricity costs through 2030, increase employment in the region by 100,000 jobs or more, reduce water consumption by 50% or more, and dramatically reduce air pollutant emissions including greenhouse gas emissions compared to a BAU scenario. SWEEP is a member of the coalition that sponsored the Clean Energy Vision study.

 

SWEEP Releases New Report Reviewing Residential Retrofit Programs Offered by Utilities in the Southwest

SWEEP’s new report, A Review of Residential Retrofit Programs Offered by Utilities in the Southwest is now available.  This report examines programs that are offered by twelve electric and gas utilities in the southwest region.  These utilities plan to spend nearly $100 million on retrofit programs in 2011.  Costs per unit of first year energy savings are as low as $0.05 per kWh for some utilities.  Programs implemented by Questar Gas Company and Fort Collins Utilities are highlighted for their flexibility, thoroughness and high energy savings. This report was authored by J.C. Martel, SWEEP Buildings Program Associate.   

 

Holy Cross Energy Approves Five-Year Energy Efficiency Plan

Holy Cross Energy, a rural electric cooperative serving about 55,000 customers in western Colorado, has approved a 2012-2016 energy efficiency plan. The plan calls for spending a total of $7.5 million on energy efficiency programs over five years, or $1.5 million per year (equal to about 1.2% of sales revenues) on average. The utility will help its customers achieve energy savings equal to 2.5% of sales after the five-year effort or about 0.5% savings per year. While this is a step in the right direction and superior to what other rural electric cooperatives in Colorado are planning with respect to energy efficiency, it is much less than what major investor-owned utilities including Xcel Energy are achieving through their energy efficiency programs. The Holy Cross plan estimates that energy efficiency programs will save electricity at an average cost of 2 cents per kWh, far less than the cost of supplying electricity from either new or existing power sources.

 

Presentations from SWEEP’s Utah Recycled Energy Workshop

SWEEP, through its collaboration in running the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Energy Application Center, hosted a day-long workshop and tour on recycled energy on July 13th in Salt Lake City.  Nearly 50 participants toured successful recycled energy projects at Kennecott Utah Copper and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, learned about the technical and financial basics of recycled energy, and learned how to tap into the Center’s free resources for assistance on a project. The workshop also included a strategy discussion on how to advance this clean and efficient energy resource in the state, and a special session on output-based emissions regulations for recycled energy projects.

Recycled energy can nearly double the efficiency of energy use by capturing leftover heat from power generation or industrial processes and converting it into additional electrical or thermal energy. SWEEP supports recycled energy as an important efficiency resource for industrial, large commercial, governmental, and utility organizations. 

 

Presentation at ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) held its 2011 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry in Niagara Falls, NY on July 27-29. Neil Kolwey, SWEEP Senior Associate, Industrial Program, presented highlights of a paper co-authored with Christine Brinker, SWEEP Program Associate. The presentation and paper describe the innovative aspects of Colorado’s industrial energy efficiency program, called the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge (CIEC). Co-funded by the DOE and the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, the CIEC program asks large and medium-size industrial companies in Colorado to set a five-year energy efficiency goal and to report annual energy consumption data.  To date, there are 21 members of the CIEC program, spending an average of $4.3 million per year on energy.

 

July

NV Energy Reports on 2010 DSM Program Impacts

NV Energy, the parent company for Nevada Power Company (NPC) in southern Nevada and Sierra Pacific Power Company (SPPC) in northern Nevada, has released its annual demand-side management (DSM) update reports.  NPC reports verified net energy savings of about 241 GWh per year from DSM programs implemented in 2010, about 1.1% of retail electricity sales. SPPC reports verified net energy savings of about 63 GWh per year from DSM programs implemented in 2010, about 0.8% of retail electricity sales. The two utilities combined exceeded their 2010 energy savings targets while significantly under spending their approved DSM budgets. The utilities estimate that DSM programs and measures implemented in 2010 will yield $47 million in net benefits for the households and business they serve, valuable savings considering the deep recession affecting Nevadans. The DSM reports also include proposed revisions to 2012 DSM programs and budgets.

 

PNM Issues New Integrated Resource Plan

Public Service Company of New Mexico has released a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the period 2011-2030. The IRP shows that high levels of utility demand-side management (DSM) programs can help to reduce the need for other new resources and lower overall electricity supply costs especially if natural gas prices rise or new regulations on pollutant emissions are adopted. The most cost effective resource portfolio in the IRP shows PNM exceeding the energy savings requirements currently in place in New Mexico through 2020, as well as ramping load management and demand response programs. 

 

Lost Revenue Recovery Approved for DSM Programs in Nevada

On May 23, 2011, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) issued an order approving the recovery of lost revenues from demand-side management (DSM) programs for NV Energy, parent company of Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power Companies.  This is the first filing under new regulations that provide for the recovery of DSM expenses and lost revenues in an annual balancing account.  Nevada Power Company, the electric utility serving the metropolitan Las Vegas area, will collect projected DSM program costs along with projected lost revenues beginning July 1, with the combination representing 3.4 percent of rates prior to the new surcharge. In addition, the PUCN ordered that lost revenues must be justified through rigorous evaluation of DSM programs and must be determined net of free ridership and, if credibly demonstrated, any spillover effects. Providing recovery of lost revenues is intended to remove any financial disincentive the utility faces as it implements DSM programs for its customers.

 

Industrial Energy Efficiency Featured at Western Governors Association Annual Meeting

Industrial energy efficiency was one of the four main topics discussed at the Western Governors Association (WGA) annual meeting held on June 29th and 30th in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. SWEEP played a large role in drafting the WGA’s report on industrial energy efficiency, which was the basis for a resolution titled Promoting Industrial Energy Efficiency approved by the Western Governors. The report and resolution encourage states and industries to adopt a goal of at least a 2.5% per year reduction in industrial energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of production) over the next five years. To achieve this goal, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • States should develop recognition programs for the most energy-efficient industrial companies, training programs that leverage Department of Energy (DOE) resources, and support industrial energy efficiency benchmarking efforts.
  • States should consider adopting state standards or goals for energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs.
  • Public Utilities Commissions (PUCs) should approve decoupling or other lost revenue recovery mechanisms for utilities, as well as shareholder incentives to encourage utilities to achieve energy saving goals.
  • PUCs should encourage utilities to adopt a comprehensive set of programs to support energy efficiency improvements by industrial customers.
  • Legislatures and PUCs should adopt policies that remove obstacles to industrial combined heat and power systems.

Copies of Reports

 

Colorado Governor Recognizes Industrial Companies

On July 6, Governor John Hickenlooper recognized 12 Colorado industrial companies for their participation in the Colorado Industrial Energy Challenge (CIEC) and their commitments and achievements in energy efficiency. Governor Hickenlooper gave five companies “excellence in energy efficiency” awards for their achievements over the last two years. (See table below.)

Company

Location

Energy Efficiency Achievement
(2008-2010)

Amgen

Boulder and Longmont

15.5% reduction in total energy consumption

Avago Technologies

Fort Collins

28.4% reduction in energy use per unit of production

Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crested Butte

18.9% reduction in total energy consumption

Hunter Douglas

Broomfield

14.5% reduction in energy use per unit of production

New Belgium Brewing

Fort Collins

14.2% reduction in energy use per unit of production

 

These five companies achieved reduced their energy costs by an average of $700,000 per year. In addition to devoting considerable effort to making energy efficiency improvements at their own facilities, these companies have also actively shared their ideas and successes with other companies in the CIEC program.For more information on the CIEC program, including the complete list of member companies and their energy goals, visit the CIEC web site.

 

June

SWEEP Publishes Review of Leading Rural Electric Cooperative Efficiency Programs

SWEEP has published Review of Leading Rural Electric Cooperative Energy Efficiency Programs, a report highlighting the work of rural electric cooperatives (RECs) in Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon. Rural cooperatives in these states have banded together to offer well-designed, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, in some cases through the generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives that provide wholesale power to RECs. The leading programs are having a significant impact on the electricity use of rural households, businesses and farms served by the RECs. The strongest programs are found in states such as Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon that have enacted legislation directing RECs to fund efficiency programs and/or meet energy savings requirements. The report was authored by Keith Freischlag, SWEEP Senior Associate.

 

City of Denver Becomes Leader in Energy Conservation Codes

On June 13, the Denver City Council acted to save Denver residents money and reduce emissions by adopting the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new home and commercial construction, renovations, and additions. The Council was unanimous in voting for the energy code and other International Codes for the City and County with a 9 to 0 vote.

The new energy code will achieve approximately a 15 percent increase in energy efficiency compared to the performance of homes built to the current Denver energy code, and a 5 percent increase in energy efficiency for commercial building tenants and owners. The ordinance becomes effective June 17 and the code will take effect on October 17, 2011.

 

U.S. DOE Sets First Regional Energy-Savings Standards for ACs and Furnaces, Upgrades National Heat Pump Standards

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a Direct Final Rule establishing the first-ever regional standards for central air conditioners and furnaces, as well as strengthened national standards for heat pumps. The new rules are based on a joint recommendation filed with DOE by a diverse coalition of consumer, manufacturing, and environmental groups in 2009.

Once the latest updated standards take effect, a typical new air conditioner in the South will use about 40% less energy, and a typical new furnace in the North will use about 20% less than before national standards were established in the late 1980s. According to DOE’s analysis, the improvements to the air conditioner and heat pump standards announced today will save 156 billion kilowatt hours of electricity over 30 years, or about enough to meet the total electricity needs of all the households in Indiana for three years, while delivering net savings of more than $4.2 billion to U.S. consumers. The new furnace standards will save 31 billion therms of natural gas, or about enough natural gas over 32 years to heat all the homes in New York State for more than 11 years and save consumers $14.5 billion.

Regarding SWEEP’s states, the regional standards require new furnaces to have an AFUE rating of at least 90% in Colorado and Utah, and central air conditioners and heat pumps to  have an SEER rating of at least 14 in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.

 

Fort Collins Utilities Achieves Excellent Energy Savings Results in 2010

Fort Collins Utilities reports that its 2010 energy efficiency programs helped its customers save 1.4% of total electricity use, from measures taken in 2010 alone. Net savings due to the utility’s programs (including an adjustment for estimated “free riders”) were 1.2% of electricity use. Savings were achieved at an average cost of 3.8 cents per kWh (utility cost only), well below the average retail electricity price. This is one of the highest savings percentages achieved by any electric utility in the southwest region, demonstrating that even a small utility can implement very effective energy efficiency programs. Fort Collins Utilities is a municipal utility serving about 65,000 customers.  Detailed energy savings information is available in the utiltity's 2010 Energy Policy Update.

 

Salt River Project Commits to Expand Energy Efficiency Through 2020

The Salt River Project (SRP) Board of Directors unanimously approved revisions to their Sustainable Portfolio Principles (SPPs) which will expand energy efficiency programs and services through 2020. The SPPs, which direct the Company's current and future use of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, were revised in response to a three-month public review process that included a series of public workshops and board meetings. SWEEP played an active role in this process by presenting and advocating for a greater commitment to energy efficiency. The revised Sustainable Portfolio Principles:

  1. Set an increased and accelerated goal for SRP to achieve 20% of its expected retail energy requirements through the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources by Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The previous SPPs had a goal of 15% by FY 2025;
  2. Establish annual energy efficiency savings targets of 1.5% (FY 2012-2014), 1.75% (FY 2015-2017), and 2.0% (FY 2018-2020). The previous SPPs had no annual energy efficiency savings targets; and
  3. Include a commitment by SRP to work on a local and federal level to support building energy efficiency codes and standards, for which the company can count up to fifty percent of the energy savings. The previous SPPs did not recognize Company support for building energy codes or standards.

For more information please see:

 

May

Rocky Mountain Power Reports Another Strong Year for DSM Programs in Utah

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) reports that its demand-side management (DSM) programs reduced electricity use by 201.5 GWh per year in 2010, equal to about 0.9% of the utility’s retail electricity sales. The utility also had over 154 MW of peak load control capability at the end of 2010. 2010 programs as a whole had a benefit-cost ratio of over 1.8 and provided RMP’s customers more than $90 million in net economic benefits. The strong results were driven in part by a new advertising and promotion campaign that was launched last year. Rocky Mountain Power is the main electric utility serving about 800,000 customers in Utah. See RMP's Annual DSM Report for more detail.

 

April

PNM Boosted Energy Savings Achieved in 2010

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) reports that it saved about 59 million kWh per year and 79 MW of peak demand as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented in 2010. The energy savings achieved in 2010 exceeded the company’s savings goal for the year, while the company spent slightly less than the amount it had budgeted for efficiency programs in 2010. Even more significant, PNM increased the energy savings achieved by its efficiency programs 49% between 2009 and 2010. As a result of its 2010 programs, PNM estimates its customers will save $30 million net, carbon dioxide pollution will decline by 372,633 tons, and over 211 million gallons of water will be saved due to less power plant operation. PNM is the largest electric utility in New Mexico serving about 500,000 customers.

 

Congratulations to 2011 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest!

On April 12, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) honored businesses and organizations for their outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency at the 2011 ENERGY STAR Awards ceremony. SWEEP congratulates the eleven award winners with operations in the Southwest region.

Three organizations in our region were honored with an ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence for their long-standing, effective efforts to promote and expand the market for energy-efficient homes:

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

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

  • FSL Home Improvements dba FSL Home Energy Solutions (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Meritage Homes (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • New Mexico Gas Company (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Public Service Company of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
  • Questar Gas Company (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Xcel Energy (Minneapolis, MN and Denver, CO)

In addition, Utah Building Energy Efficiency Strategies (Salt Lake City, UT) received an Award for Excellence in ENERGY STAR promotion, and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver received an Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing.

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

 

Two Arizona Utilities Achieve Over 1% Energy Savings in 2010

Arizona’s two largest regulated electric utilities report that they achieved annual energy savings equivalent to 1.1% of retail energy sales in 2010.  Together, these companies generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic, health, and environmental benefits for Arizonans as a result of their 2010 demand-side management programs, according to recently filed annual reports. Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) delivered net benefits of $214,515,315; produced 4,820,102 MWh in lifetime savings; and saved 2.83 million tons of carbon dioxide over the life of the measures. These results are significant because they represent the first time any one Arizona utility has achieved greater than 1% energy savings in a single year. SWEEP assisted the utilities as they developed their 2010 DSM program designs.

 

Xcel Energy Surpasses Electricity and Natural Gas Savings Goals in 2010

Xcel Energy reports that it saved 252 GWh per year of electricity and 454,000 Dekatherms per year of natural gas as a result of demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in 2010. Both savings levels exceed the goals for the programs. In addition, Xcel reports that its electric DSM programs had an overall benefit-cost ratio of 3.3 while the gas DSM programs had a benefit-cost ratio of about 1.4. Xcel Energy spent $54.7 million on electric DSM programs and $16.9 million on gas DSM programs last year. The company estimates that electric programs alone will result in $227 million in net economic benefits for customers over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures installed due to its 2010 DSM programs. Gas DSM programs will result in about $15 million in net economic benefits. Xcel Energy serves about 1.4 million electric and gas customers in Colorado.

 

PacifiCorp Issues New Integrated Resource Plan with Expanded Role for Energy Efficiency and Load Management

PacifiCorp has completed a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for its multi-state service area that includes Utah and Wyoming. The new IRP contains considerably greater energy efficiency and load management resources than PacifiCorp’s previous IRP. In fact energy efficiency is the largest new resource added during 2012-2030 in the company’s preferred portfolio. By 2020, energy efficiency and load management measures and programs are projected to provided about 13% of system capacity and 11% of energy within the company’s total resource mix.

 

March

Colorado PUC Raises the Bar for Xcel Energy’s Energy Efficiency Programs

On March 31, 2011, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reached its decision in a case where it examined the energy savings goals for Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs during 2012-2020. The PUC increased the energy savings goals for Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs by 30% relative to energy savings goals adopted in 2008. This is close to the level recommended by SWEEP. Households and businesses served by Xcel will save hundreds of millions of dollars more as a result of the energy savings goals adopted by the PUC rather than the more modest goals proposed by Xcel. In addition to increasing the energy efficiency goals, the PUC revised the incentive mechanism whereby Xcel is able to earn a profit when it helps its customers save energy. The more energy savings that Xcel achieves, the bigger the profit that Xcel can earn. This mechanism is intended to make investment in energy efficiency programs a “win-win” proposition for Xcel Energy’s customers and shareholders.

 

New Mexico Commission Approves Expansion of Southwestern Public Service Company’s DSM Programs

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has approved a new demand-side management (DSM) plan for Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS). The plan calls for SPS to spend $10.9 million or about 3.2% of retail sales revenue on DSM programs in 2011. SPS expects to save about 37 GWh and nearly 14 MW of peak demand per year as a result of its new DSM plan. The annual energy savings are equivalent to about 0.8% of the utility’s retail electricity sales, and are 18% greater than the energy savings SPS achieved in 2010. SPS, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, supplies electricity to about 110,000 customers in southeastern New Mexico. SWEEP helped to improve the DSM plan as an intervener through the New Mexico Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy (CCAE).

 

WGA Holds Workshop on Industrial Energy Efficiency

On March 16 and 17, the Western Governors Association (WGA) held a workshop in Boise, Idaho on what states can do to promote improved energy efficiency in the industrial sector. Participants listened to presentations from industry, utility efficiency programs, and state industrial efficiency programs, and then contributed to recommendations for Western governors to consider at their upcoming annual meeting in June. On average in the western states, industry accounts for 28% of total electricity and natural gas consumption, and there are plenty of untapped opportunities for improved energy efficiency.

SWEEP played an important role in helping WGA organize the workshop, contributing to the agenda, suggesting speakers, and hosting several of the workshop sessions. SWEEP also co-authored a white paper to provide background for the workshop.

 

SWEEP Publishes Report on What Cities and Counties Can Do to Promote the Deployment of Electric Vehicles

With plug-in electric vehicles becoming available to the public across the United States, SWEEP has published a report outlining steps that municipal and county governments can take to promote deployment of these vehicles through support of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The report offers examples of best practices from cities that have already begun to address the challenges raised by this transition to electric vehicles. Issues examined include establishment of taskforces to coordinate policies, public education, provision of public and private charging infrastructure along with the role of utilities and incentives for vehicles and infrastructure. SWEEP supports the promotion of electric vehicles as they provide energy security benefits while reducing energy use, fuel costs and tailpipe emissions.

 

February

SWEEP Publishes Nevada Transportation Blueprint

On February 17, SWEEP published the Nevada Transportation Blueprint and presented the findings of the report to the Nevada State Senate Committee on Transportation. The Blueprint identifies transportation sector strategies that the State of Nevada could implement that would add billions of dollars to the state economy, reduce its dependence on imported oil, save consumers money and create local jobs by improving the efficiency of the transportation system.

The fifteen strategies outlined in this report, if adopted, would create tremendous economic and health benefits for Nevada, including avoiding the import of over 600 million barrels of oil by 2050, which would save the state between $38 billion and $57 billion and contribute to the creation of thousands of new jobs in the state. The average household could be expected to save up to $900 in 2020 and $1,500 in 2050 by adoption of these strategies.

 

Colorado Springs Municipal Utility Proposes Achieving 10% Energy Savings by 2020

Colorado Springs Utilities, the second largest electric utility in Colorado, has unveiled a draft energy vision that includes reducing per capita electricity use 10% by 2020. The utility indicates it can achieve this goal through expanded DSM programs, better price signals, and other efforts such as promotion of smart appliances. The draft energy vision will be considered as the utility prepares a new Integrated Resource Plan later this year. Colorado Springs Utilities sold about 5.2 billion kWh of electricity to 220,000 customers as of 2009. The utility also provides natural gas to about 185,000 customers.

 

SWEEP and Sierra Club Succeed in Effort to Implement Cost-Saving Building Codes in New Mexico

SWEEP, working closely with the Sierra Club, has succeeded in efforts to ensure cost-saving building codes will be published in the New Mexico State Register. Governor Susana Martinez had attempted to halt the publication of these new codes, along with several other environmental regulations, via an Executive Order on her first day in office. However, the Supreme Court ruled in two related cases that she did not have authority to do so. That ruling led to an agreement to publish the Energy Conservation Code in exchange for withdrawal of advocates’ Supreme Court case.

The New Mexico Energy Conservation Code for Residential and Commercial Buildings was officially adopted by the New Mexico Construction Industries Commission in 2010. These new codes will help New Mexico residents and businesses save money on electric and gas bills by reducing their energy consumption by approximately 20 percent. The residential code will result in an average net savings of nearly $14 per month ($167 per year) for each homeowner, which adds up to $66 million dollars saved over a ten year period throughout the state. The commercial code is also highly cost-effective, with payback periods for all energy efficiency measures of less than seven years.

 

January

NARUC Releases Reports Recommending Best Practices for Energy Efficiency Programs

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) released a series of studies this month, providing state regulatory commission assistance in the areas of energy efficiency, smart grid systems and dynamic pricing. The projects were funded by the Department of Energy under a State Electricity Regulators Capacity Assessment and Training (SERCAT) program, directly supporting a number of southwestern states including Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

The Arizona Corporation Commission received assistance on an aggregated net metering program (ANM) concept, allowing energy produced from one customer generation source to be shared by other adjacent customers. The recommendations of the Arizona report encourage the commission to move forward with an ANM pilot, working jointly with the state’s three investor owned electric utilities APS, TEP and UNS Electric, with voluntary participation by Arizona’s electric cooperatives.

Assistance provided to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission explored the development of a third party energy efficiency supplier as an alternative approach to delivering DSM services in Colorado

Best practices for evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) were identified in the New Mexico report helping the Public Regulation Commission to build a statewide EM&V strategy and framework.

 

SWEEP Publishes Regional Recommendations and Toolkit for Green Building Programs in the Denver Metro Area

SWEEP has published a new report based on the results of a six-month stakeholder process to seek consensus on regional standards for green building programs in the Denver metropolitan area. The Regional Recommendations and Toolkit outlines incremental steps that local jurisdictions can take toward setting up effective green building programs based on a regionally consistent standard, and offers implementation tools and educational resources for each milestone. The Toolkit is designed to assist local code officials guiding the design of green building programs. Jurisdictions that already have a green building program can use the Toolkit to adopt the codes and standards recommended by the stakeholder group, thereby promoting consistency throughout the region.

 

Arizona Corporation Commission Approves Decoupling Policy

On December 15, 2010, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) unanimously adopted a policy statement that supports and encourages full decoupling of utility recovery of authorized fixed costs and energy sales. The policy allows investor-owned electric and gas utilities to file specific decoupling proposals in their next general rate cases using the policy statement as a guideline. The endorsement of decoupling is meant to reduce utility financial disincentives to energy efficiency at the same time that utilities scale up their efficiency programs in order to meet the Energy Efficiency Standards recently adopted by the ACC. SWEEP played an instrumental role in supporting the decoupling policy and participating in ACC workshops as it was being considered.