Regional News Briefs

March

Utah Commission Approves New Cost Recovery Mechanism for Rocky Mountain Power’s Energy Efficiency Programs

The Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a new approach for recovering the cost of energy efficiency and other demand-side management (DSM) programs in Utah. Starting in 2017, DSM expenditures by Rocky Mountain Power will be capitalized and amortized over 10 years. Until amortized, these investments will earn a return equal to the utility’s pretax weighted average cost of capital. Previously, DSM expenditures were expensed and recovered through a utility bill surcharge and balancing account. The new cost recovery mechanism was authorized in legislation approved in Utah in 2016. Rocky Mountain Power, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, is the one investor-owned electric utility that serves about 860,000 customers in Utah.

  • Click here for a copy of the PSC order.
  • Click here for a copy of the legislation authorizing this new cost recovery mechanism.

Boulder Code Continues Path to Net Zero

The City of Boulder, Colorado, has put its residential energy code on a path to net zero. Under the new code, approved unanimously by the city council March 7, all new homes larger than 5,000 square feet must be built to meet net-zero energy consumption (i.e. very energy efficient and producing as much energy as they use over the course of a year). Smaller homes will gradually face similar requirements, with all new residential construction meeting net-zero targets by 2031. Major renovations to existing homes will also trigger the stricter requirements.

The city’s new code is based on its previously-adopted 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) but cranks up the required efficiency measures and requires new homes to meet updated Energy Rating Index (ERI) numbers based on square footage. (The ERI, common in many jurisdictions’ codes, is essentially a “score” of a home’s energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy.)

Boulder’s code also requires that new buildings be solar-ready and electric vehicle-ready, and have sustainable landscaping.

For more information, see:

 

PacifiCorp Issues new DSM Potential Assessment

PacifiCorp has completed a Demand-Side Resource Potential Assessment for the period 2017-36 to help inform its upcoming 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The study found achievable savings potential of 5.8 million megawatt hours (MWh) in Utah by 2036, which is equal to about 22 percent of the electricity used in PacifiCorp’s Utah service area during 2016.

The study also shows achievable savings potential of 1.7 million MWh in Wyoming by 2036, which is equal to about 17 percent of electricity used in PacifiCorp’s Wyoming service area during 2016.

The new Demand-Side Management (DSM) potential assessment found much greater peak reduction potential through a combination of dispatchable load control and dynamic pricing programs, compared to PacifiCorp’s previous DSM potential assessment.

PacifiCorp is the largest electric utility operating in Utah and Wyoming through its Rocky Mountain Power subsidiary.

 

Boulder County, CO, starts region’s first local government EV advising program

Boulder County, Colorado, has become the first local government in the Southwest to offer personal electric vehicle advising, as part of its Energy Smart advising service. The program will help residents learn about financial incentives, and what types of electric vehicles (EVs) best match their personal driving habits, as well as help in identifying their charging opportunities.

SWEEP had recommended the program in a 2015 analysis of steps that the city of Boulder and Boulder County could take to increase EV adoption.

 

Coalition Asks Lawmakers for Funding to Fix Colorado's Transportation

A diverse coalition has asked the Colorado legislature to refer a sales tax increase proposal to voters to help the state’s overburdened transportation system.  MPACT 64, a statewide coalition of local government groups, business associations and civic groups, sent the March 2 letter because under the state’s constitution voters must approve all tax increases.

The letter to Colorado legislators asked them to refer a sales tax increase that would generate $750 million per year. The group also asked that 30 percent of the new funds be allocated to mobility services and infrastructure such as expanded public transit, bicycle lanes and paths, and pedestrian infrastructure.

On the same day, 64 local elected officials from across the state released another letter asking that any new state transportation funding include public transit and bicycle infrastructure.

SWEEP is a member of MPACT 64 and a signatory to the letter. 

 

February

New SWEEP Report on Industrial Recommissioning

SWEEP has issued a new report, Industrial Recommissioning: Not Just a Building Tune-up.  Industrial re-commissioning programs can help all sizes of industrial customers save energy and money. Through low-cost improvements to common industrial energy systems such as compressed air, pumping, process cooling, and refrigeration, customers can often save 10-20 percent of the energy consumption of the systems targeted. This report reviews features of six existing programs and provides a set of recommendations for successfully implementing a new industrial re-commissioning program.

 

Colorado PUC Approves Xcel Energy’s 2017-18 Energy Efficiency and DSM Programs Plan

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Colorado has approved a new two-year demand-side management (DSM) plan for Xcel Energy, the large investor-owned utility serving 1.4 million electric customers in Colorado. The PUC signed off on an unopposed Settlement Agreement in the docket reviewing Xcel Energy’s new DSM plan. 

Based on the approved budget, Xcel Energy will spend $100 million on electric DSM programs in 2017 and $98 million in 2018. In addition, the new DSM plan includes $13 million per year in funding for natural gas energy efficiency programs.

The new DSM plan is designed to save approximately 425 million kilowatt-hours and reduce peak demand by 81 megawatts from energy efficiency and other DSM programs implemented annually during 2017-18. The annual energy savings targets are equivalent to nearly 1.4 percent of Xcel Energy’s retail electricity sales. 

The new DSM plan and Settlement Agreement include a number of program enhancements recommended by SWEEP including a Strategic Energy Management pilot program for large customers; addition of advanced rooftop air conditioner controls to the business cooling program; addition of smart thermostats to ongoing programs where cost effective; consideration of increased support for Net Zero Energy buildings, and consideration of an upstream incentive program for heat pump water heaters. SWEEP also helped convince other stakeholders to support or at least not oppose the Settlement Agreement.

 

January

Denver Regional Council of Governments adopts strong sustainability goals

On Jan. 18, 2017, the board of directors of the Denver Regional Council of Governments adopted Metro Vision 2040, a long-range plan for land use and transportation in the Denver metropolitan area. The final plan includes targets of a 10 percent reduction in per capita driving and a 60 percent reduction in per capita greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

The plan also calls for a 25 percent increase in average density, and for most new growth to take place in urban centers.

SWEEP served on the advisory committee for developing Metro Vision 2040 and advocated for strong sustainability goals.

 

New Mexico Public Resources Commission Approves PNM’s 2017 DSM Plan

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) customers will see additional opportunities to save money on their utility bills, thanks to the New Mexico Public Resources Commission’s (NMPRC) approval of PNM’s 2017 Demand-Side Management (DSM) plan.

As part of the plan approval, PNM will continue its existing programs for residential, commercial and industrial customers and add a new program providing rebates to home builders for the construction of energy-efficient houses. Additionally, PNM will receive incentives for exceeding the minimum savings required to meet its Efficient Use of Energy Act goals.

SWEEP worked with PNM, the NMPRC Staff, Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, and Western Resource Advocates to develop the uncontested stipulation that was approved by the NMPRC on January 11, 2017.

 

Tucson Electric Power installs smart thermostats in low-income apartment complexes

Tucson Electric Power is giving away smart thermostats to limited-income apartment residents who want to conserve energy.

Nearly 1,800 Nest Learning Thermostats are being installed in apartments throughout the greater Tucson area as part of a new pilot energy efficiency program.