Press Coverage

November 2017

  • Wyoming Coal and the Climate Computer
    The Weather Channel: The United States of Climate Change - November 6, 2017
    This longer article about NOAA's supercomputer located in Cheyenne, WY, explores the paradox of Wyoming hosting the machine crunching numbers for climate scientists in a state determined to save coal-fired power plants. The story also quotes SWEEP's data and SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller. "“Energy efficiency,” he added, “makes good economic sense, supports jobs in the local economy. And it reduces our consumption of fossil fuels — you don’t have to believe in global climate change to be a supporter of energy efficiency. It’s of economic benefit, and environmental benefit too if you care about it."
  • Will electric car sales become like the pond with proliferating lily pads?
    Mountain Town News - November 5, 2017
    Today they constitute just 10,000 or so among the 5 million-plus cars, trucks, and motorcycles. But the growth rate for EVs has averaged 41 percent since 2012, and this year sales are up 73 percent over the same months of last year. Toor, the transportation program director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, sees this progression as evidence for a coming tipping point in transportation electrification. Like the lilies, this automotive pond will soon look very different.
  • New Mexico Ranks in the Bottom Third Nationally in Energy Efficiency
    Green Fire Times - November 2, 2017
    SWEEP's Tammy Fiebelkkorn analyzes what New Mexico has done right and how the state still could improve its energy efficiency policies. For the second year in a row, New Mexico ranked 35th in energy efficiency and its inherent benefits. The state scored lower than the national average and well below other states in the region. The score should concern New Mexicans and state officials because better energy efficiency policies would help the Land of Enchantment prepare for challenges related to fluctuating energy costs and climate change, such as wildfires, storms and droughts. It is also a critical tool for withstanding and recovering from economic shocks.

October 2017

  • A New Plan Could Help Cure Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety In Colorado
    Colorado Public Radio - October 13, 2017
    Electric vehicles appear to be the future, with GM and Ford laying out plans for the eventual demise of the gas-powered car. But for now, potential buyers still have something called "range anxiety." That's the fear an electric car's battery may run out of charge far from a recharging station. But a solution could be on the horizon — at least in the West. Will Toor, director of transportation programs for SWEEP, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, joined Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel. They discussed a new seven-state plan, which includes Colorado, that will create electric vehicle corridors. The plan spans more than 5,000 miles of highway across the West, and 11 interstates. It could make the electric vehicle charging station as ubiquitous as the gas station.
  • How to Cope with Denver's Rapid Growth is an Ongoing Battle
    5280 Magazine - October 12, 2017
    Will Toor, director of transportation programs at Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, spoke to Duran’s concerns on transportation. “We need to focus on moving people, not just moving cars,” Toor said. He noted that—because of increasing traffic and deteriorating roadways— Denver must take efforts to make the city more walkable and bikeable for commuters. He also stressed the need for more state funding for public transportation—a sentiment that was echoed by Will Tone, a board member at the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association, who noted, “We can’t pave our way out of congestion.” He advocated for expanded rail services in the city, as well as from Denver to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.
  • Utahns love energy efficiency and buy more electric cars per capita than Californians, according to new report
    Salt Lake Tribune - October 8, 2017
    Utah is rising in the ranks among the nation’s most energy-conscious states, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). But a long-term planning report released by Rocky Mountain Power, the state’s largest provider of electricity, has some Utah businesses troubled. The report issued earlier this year indicates the regional utility expects to save 27 percent less electricity through energy-efficiency programs over the next 10 years than it has in the recent past. “We want to see more energy savings, not less,” said Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director for Utah Clean Energy, which advocates for alternative energy in Utah and across the West.
  • Energy efficiency savings may drop in the future
    Deseret News - October 8, 2017
    Rocky Mountain Power in Utah plans to curtail energy efficiency programs even though those efforts have proven effective. Utah Clean Energy, SWEEP's partner group, is worried. "We don’t fully understand why reductions are taking place given that energy efficiency continues to be a cost effective and affordable energy resource," said Utah Clean Energy's Kevin Emerson.That organization and others are looking to weigh in on PacifiCorp's newest Integrated Resource Plan, which has been submitted to the Public Service Commission for review.
  • Business, Energy Leaders Gather to Urge Rocky Mountain Power to Keep Energy Efficiency Programs
    Utah Business - October 6, 2017
    October 5 was National Energy Efficiency Day, and Utah Clean Energy and a group of business and energy leaders are encouraging Rocky Mountain Power not to cut its highly-successful wattsmart program. For more than a decade, Rocky Mountain Power has asked its customers to be “wattsmart” in their homes and businesses, and has offered incentives to use energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, building controls and efficient heating and cooling systems. Since 2008, this successful program has reduced electricity use by 2.2 billion kilowatt hours and saved Utah families and businesses an estimated $1 billion in electricity costs, according to analysis by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. In fact, due in part to Rocky Mountain Power’s wattsmart program, Utah recently gained three spots in a national scorecard for energy efficiency.
  • Seven western governors aim to charge up electric vehicle network
    Denver Business Journal - October 5, 2017
    Seven western governors on Wednesday pledged their states to work together on a plan to boost the use of electric vehicles across the region. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as well as the chief executives of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming signed a memorandum of understanding supporting the plan. Supporters of electric vehicle technology hailed the agreement. “It’s huge in terms of taking away range anxiety and allowing more people to adopt electric vehicles,” said Will Toor, director of the transportation program at Boulder’s Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.
  • Tucson Electric floats pilot program to control your thermostat
    Arizona (Tucson) Daily Star - October 1, 2017
    Tucson Electric Power is looking for volunteers to surrender control of one of the most untouchable items in every home: the thermostat. TEP is asking regulators to approve a pilot program in which customers with “smart” internet-connected thermostats would allow the utility to cycle off a customer’s air conditioner or adjust the thermostat..... “It is a tough sell for some customers, but for other customers, if their AC is cut six or eight times a year while they’re at work, it might be a good deal,” said Jeff Schlegel, Arizona representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.
  • Let’s not be afraid to talk about climate change
    Salt Lake Tribune - October 1, 2017
    SWEEP partner Utah Clean Energy explains why Utahans should talk about climate change effects. "The relationship between rising temperatures and recent record-breaking rainfall, flooding, hurricanes and wildfire events, has long been forecast by scientists studying climate change....Utahns are both pragmatic and innovative, and we have the opportunity to come together to advance solutions. By starting a dialogue about the risks that climate change poses to our quality of life, security and our economy, we open the door to common-sense actions that will help us prepare for and mitigate those risks. The good news is that while addressing climate change may appear daunting, the solutions are closer than you might think."
  • VW settlement may fund charging stations; Department will take comments until Oct. 13
    Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - October 1, 2017
    Those who assume that any settlement agreement between the auto manufacturer Volkswagen and Colorado would center on the Front Range would be wrong to do so...hat plan, about which the department is accepting public comments, includes more than helping areas of the state meet emissions standards that Volkswagen was trying to get around. It also includes proposals that reach all corners of the state, such as installing charging stations along the Interstate 70 corridor from the Front Range to Grand Junction. “The public suggested that CDPHE allocate the maximum amount allowed under the settlement — 15 percent, or approximately $10 million — toward EV (electric vehicle) charging infrastructure, and to use the remainder on replacing diesel trucks and buses with electric vehicles,” said Will Toor, director of the Denver-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “The state’s draft plan ... does a good job of responding to this input, and calls for making meaningful investments in electrification of Colorado cars, trucks and buses.”

September 2017

  • Volkswagen Settlement Will Fund Cleaner Buses in Colorado
    Streets Blog Denver - September 25, 2017
    Transit networks across Colorado will benefit from Volkswagen’s worldwide payout as the German carmaker settles with local governments for lying about emissions from its vehicles. Colorado transit agencies, including RTD, will get millions to buy cleaner, more efficient vehicles starting next year.... Nearly 70 percent of the state’s traffic mileage is on urban roads — not rural roads — making the Denver metro and Pikes Peak regions fitting recipients of the majority of Volkswagen funds, said Will Toor, director of transportation programs with the Southwestern Energy Efficiency Project. The plan also prioritizes bus fleets over car fleets to give the state more bang for its buck. “That’s where you’re getting your biggest emissions benefits, on vehicles that are filled with people,” said Toor. “With the savings on gas and fuel, transit agencies can presumably put money into better service.”
  • Colorado’s $68.7 million from VW emissions-cheating settlement will replace older vehicles, fund electric charging stations
    Denver Post - September 19, 2017
    Colorado already shared how it plans to slice up the $68.7 million it’s getting in the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement. On Monday, the public had its say.
  • Colorado News Coloradans Sound Off On How VW Settlement $$ Should Be Spent
    KCNC CBS 4 - September 18, 2017
    An auditorium room was packed Monday as people told the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment how they feel millions of dollars from Volkswagen should be spent.
  • Energy Codes Are Life Safety Codes
    Builder Online - September 1, 2017
    SWEEP's Christine Brinker explains why new energy codes also improve public health and safety. Once in a while, we hear building officials mistakenly say they don’t adopt or inspect for the energy code, “because it is not a life-safety code.” This comment, however, stems from a basic misunderstanding of the energy code, and what it is designed to achieve. We’re here to correct the record—the energy code fundamentally improves the durability of buildings as well as the health and safety of us humans inside. It’s not just a “nice-to-have.”

August 2017

  • Colorado eyes greener-powered travel with Volkswagen settlement
    Colorado Statesman/ Colorado Politics - August 29, 2017
    SWEEP's Will Toor explains why Colorado should use part of its VW emissions scandal settlement funds to encourage more use of electric vehicles. Among other benefits, electric cars will help metro Denver reduce air pollution. The state's Department of Public Health and Environment will hold a public hearing on its draft plan for the VW funds, including $18 million for transit buses, another $18 million for trucks and buses that run on alternative fuels, $10 million to electric vehicle charging stations plus administration and other clean-air spending.
  • Energy transparency ordinance will benefit our economy and health
    Salt Lake Tribune - August 27, 2017
    By Robert Best and Jonathan Ruga Salt Lake City Municipal Corporation is rapidly emerging as a national and global leader in improving air quality, addressing climate change and promoting clean energy. As businesses with a global reach and local Salt Lake City offices, we believe the city’s leadership is vital to attracting business to our city and state in a competitive global marketplace. Innovative energy efficiency policy is a cornerstone of this success. To this end, we strongly support Salt Lake City’s proposed “energy transparency” ordinance designed to improve the energy efficiency of our city’s large commercial buildings.
  • APS electricity bills going up as rate increase is approved
    Arizona Republic - August 15, 2017
    State utility regulators voted Tuesday for Arizona Public Service Co. to increase the average household bill by $6 a month starting Saturday. AARP and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project conservation group opposed the service-fee and time-of-use hour changes.
  • Utility regulators to vote on APS rate hike Tuesday
    Arizona Republic - August 12, 2017
    Arizona's elected utility regulators plan to spend no more than one day Tuesday discussing and voting on a $6-a-month rate hike for more than 1 million Arizona Public Service Co. customers. The story describes why SWEEP, Arizona AARP and other partners opposed parts of the rate case.

July 2017

  • Streetsblog Denver
    Colorado Taxes and Fees Only Cover Half of What Colorado Spends on Roads - July 28, 2017
    When politicians argue for bike taxes or call transit a bad investment because it doesn’t pay for itself, the implicit assumption is that these modes are somehow different than roads, which purportedly “pay for themselves.” They couldn’t be more wrong....In Colorado, the General Assembly hasn’t raised the gas tax since 1993. When you factor in inflation, the state is receiving less from the gas tax now than it did 24 years ago, according to a report from the Southwestern Energy Efficiency Project
  • What will it take to reach the climate change goals set by Gov. Hickenlooper?
    Colorado Independent - July 20, 2017
    Words of praise flowed from environmental groups last week after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order calling for Colorado to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent. The executive order aligns Colorado with 13 other states in the new Climate Alliance that have pledged to honor Paris climate agreement goals, bucking President Donald Trump’s announced exit. What exactly will it take to meet the goal the order spells out? “They’re demonstrating it can be done,” says Geller of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We need to do that around the state.”
  • To Beat Congestion, Colorado Can’t Rely on the Same Bag of Road Expansion Tricks
    Streets Blog Denver - July 17, 2017
    An additional 1.2 million people will call Colorado home by 2030, according to the State Demography Office, and they’ll have to get around somehow. No one wants to sit in traffic, but unless Colorado DOT changes its 1950s approach to congestion management, people will be spending more time behind the wheel. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of sticking with the same old road expansion strategies, Colorado should be converting highway lanes to high-occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes and putting that revenue toward better transit, according to a new report from the Southwestern Energy Efficient Project
  • Tolling on an existing I-25 lane is one way to stretch Colorado's transportation dollars
    Colorado Politics/ Colorado Statesman - July 17, 2017
    A new report from the Boulder-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project asserts tolling could help drive traffic remedies on Interstate 25 through Denver. The idea would be to take an existing lane and put on price on it. People who want to pay could use it, similar to the high-occupancy toll lane on U.S. 36 between north metro Denver and Boulder.

June 2017

  • New Laws to Change Energy in Nevada
    KTVN Ch. 2 News Reno, NV - June 30, 2017
    The future of Nevada's energy system was one of the major issues of the 2017 legislative session, and lawmakers passed a whole slew of changes. There were more than a dozen clean energy bills when the session started. The governor eventually signed nine of those into law, changing policies regarding rooftop solar to electric cars, but the main theme from both sides of the aisle was pushing Nevada toward a cleaner energy future. "Electricity is the cleanest fuel available to Nevadans," Southwest Energy Efficiency Project representative Tom Polikalas said. "It's also the cheapest. So every time somebody drives an electric vehicle that means we are displacing that equal amount of gasoline that would be imported to Nevada. We don't produce gasoline. We can produce electricity. So we are shifting from an import to something that we produce locally."
  • Changing how Coloradans pay for electricity: Hearings Wednesday on Xcel smart meters, revenue
    Denver Business Journal - June 20, 2017
    The Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday will take up two cases that could change how customers monitor and pay for electricity from Xcel Energy Inc. The PUC will hold hearings, starting at 11 a.m., on two major cases: Whether Xcel (NYSE: XEL) should be allowed to upgrade meters in customers’ home and businesses, as well as other equipment to better control the flow of electricity to those customers. And whether the state should “decouple” Xcel’s revenues from the sale of electricity, which supporters say will give the company more incentive to push energy conservation and rooftop solar systems. The story extensively quotes SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller. The two cases are part of Xcel’s “Our Energy Future” program it first floated in early 2016
  • Some businesses left in the dark by TEP
    KVOA Ch. 4 Tucson - June 13, 2017
    A rebate program from Tucson Electric Power company's left some customers in the dark. It's the commercial program that offers incentives for businesses to convert to LED lights that will save them money. Some businesses are irate saying the program was suspended without proper notice.

May 2017

  • Settlement Money Could Fund Electric School Buses in Nevada
    KTVN Ch. 2 News Reno, NV - May 31, 2017
    Nevada is getting a big chunk of change from a settlement with Volkswagen, following the automaker's major emissions scandal. The company is paying a multi-billion dollar settlement, which is getting divided among the states. Nevada is getting nearly $25 million in the settlement, but there's a catch. That money has to be used for some sort of emissions reduction project, and some are hoping that will mean a new fleet of all-electric school buses. "To have another key point of our community's transportation-- electric buses, school buses, that just adds into the menu of what Nevada could be doing to improve our environment and our economy," Southwest Energy Efficiency Project representative Tom Polikalas said.
  • Tucson Electric Power halts energy-efficiency rebate for businesses
    Tucson, Arizona Daily Star - May 29, 2017
    Tucson Electric Power Co. has for now stopped offering rebates to commercial customers under its state-mandated energy-efficiency programs, after running out of money for the incentive programs. “Customers who have been paying into the program for years are not able to get service now, so there’s a problem there,” said Jeff Schlegel, Arizona representative for SWEEP. SWEEP plans to file a request with the Corporation Commission, seeking additional funding for the TEP energy-efficiency programs, Schlegel said, saying TEP’s action has the effect of a 26 percent program cut.
  • Electric School Bus at Nevada Legislative May 22 and May 23
    This Is Reno web news - May 21, 2017
    The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and the Clean Energy Project ( are promoting zero-emission school transportation at the Nevada Legislature this upcoming Monday, May 22, and the morning of May 23. Funding for electric school bussess may be available through the settlement with VW.
  • How Hogle Zoo visitors can get discounts on electric vehicles and bikes
    KUCW ABC4/ Good4Utah - May 1, 2017
    Utah's Hogle Zoo and Utah Clean Energy have launched a Zoo-m Go Electric Program through May 31, 2017. Zoo members, staff and visitors can get discounts on energy-saving, non-pollutant vehicles.

April 2017

  • Electric Vehicles: Koch Group Opposed Clean Car Perk and Lost
    Energy and Environment Climate Wire - April 27, 2017
    Climate Wire/ Energy & Environment News quoted SWEEP's transportation director Will Toor about defeating a bill that would have erased Colorado's tax credits for electric vehicles and other clean-powered cars.
  • Nevada Senate clears trio of energy bills on storage, efficiency, utility planning
    Utility Dive - April 26, 2017
    Nevada state Senators have passed three clean energy bills aiming to support advanced technologies, including Senate Bill 150 which would require meeting 1.5% of sales with energy efficiency from 2021-2025. resources, directing utilities to consider economic and environmental benefits in their Integrated Resource Plans.
  • State energy-efficiency-program renewal faces main legislative hurdle Thursday
    Colorado Statesman - April 19, 2017
    A bill that would renew a major state energy efficiency program will be heard Thursday afternoon in a Senate committee. The vote very likely will be make or break for the program, which supporters say has had significant positive job-creation and energy-saving effects in the state since it was unrolled in 2007. House Bill 1227, inelegantly but accurately entitled the “Electric Demand-Side Management Program Extension” bill, is being heard in the Republican-controlled Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. If the bill passes, it will move on to the Senate floor where it is very likely to pass and then land quickly on the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The bill exited the House two weeks ago on a solid bipartisan 42-22 vote, winning over all of the Democrats and six Republicans.

March 2017

  • Energy forum focuses on education, community engagement
    KOLO-Ch.8 - March 23, 2017
    Business owners and lawmakers are hosting an energy forum at the Innevation Center Thursday night. It will address all of the energy bills making their way through the legislative process so citizens can get a better idea of some of the renewable options on the table and learn about how to make their voices heard at the legislature. Assemblyman William McCurdy II (D-LV) is making progress with a bill that would create new energy efficiency programs and opportunities, especially for those that are spending higher percentages of their income on energy. Bill supporters hope this legislation will create jobs and help diversify the state's economy. "With energy efficiency we're saving money and we're helping to put people to work," said Tom Polikalas of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. "When they're insulating their homes and buildings or retrofitting the lighting or providing better technology for heating and cooling systems, that's creating jobs in a number of sectors that are hard hit. There's the opportunity to create thousands of jobs as we make Nevada more efficient."
  • APS rate hike has critical flaws, consumer groups say
    Arizona Republic - March 23, 2017
    Arizona Public Service Co. has won over the state consumer advocate and the staff for utility regulators regarding its need for a rate increase, but the proposed hike still has a number of opponents, including AARP, energy conservation advocates and individual consumers. "We think it takes away choices from consumers,” said Steve Jennings, associate state director for AARP. “Forcing new customers on a time-of-use rate, that is a concern for us,” said Jeff Schlegel, the state representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), a conservation group.
  • Breaking Down What the State Transport Bill Does for Walking, Biking, and Transit
    Streets Blog Denver - March 10, 2017
    Colorado lawmakers took a step closer to finalizing a transportation funding measure that would go before voters in November. The bipartisan bill consists of a small sales tax hike — .62 cents on the dollar — and a $3.5 billion bond package. Combined revenue would come to an estimated $627 million a year over the next 20 years. Advocates have called on the state to drastically increase investment in transit, biking, and walking, so to get a better understanding of whether this bill delivers, Streetsblog spoke to Will Toor of the Southwestern Energy Efficiency Project and Danny Katz of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, two organizations that have followed the process closely.
  • Colorado transportation bill gets criticism from conservatives, praise from business groups
    Denver Business Journaln - March 9, 2017
    Transit advocates are pressing the Colorado Legislature to reserve significant funding for buses, bikes and other transportation modes that don’t involve expanding or fixing highways. Will Toor, director of the transportation program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, said his organization and others would like to see roughly 30 percent of the revenue generated by any proposal that makes it onto the November statewide ballot put aside for mobility infrastructure and services that are not traditional roads and highways.
  • Push for public transit goes to rural towns
    Cortez Journal - March 1, 2017
    Demand for public transit is growing in Southwest Colorado, but state funding to support it needs improvement, according to local agencies and a January report by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

February 2017

  • Face the State: Electric Vehicles in Nevada
    KTVN - February 11, 2017
    SWEEP's Nevada representative Tom Polikalas explains the opportunities for investment and choices for consumers in Nevada.
  • Study: Public transit getting left by the roadside in Colorado
    Colorado Politics - February 3, 2017
    More food for thought as state lawmakers gird for an epic push to forge a transportation-funding plan: A report released by the Boulder-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP, says Colorado is ranked 29th among states in per capita funding for public transit, investing just one-twentieth of the national average in the likes of buses and light rail.

January 2017

  • Clean energy legislation to be discussed in next session
    KOLO-Channel 8 - January 20, 2017
    Several bills relating to clean energy will be discussed in the upcoming Nevada legislative session. Those topics were discussed at an energy policy forum at the InNEVation Center in downtown Reno Friday. "We're here to help educate citizens and our legislators, to be a resource to them to make sure they understand why this is such a key facet in the governor's new economy vision and in his new Nevada vision," said Tom Polikalas, Nevada representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.
  • City Supports Clean Energy Initiatives
    This is Reno - January 15, 2017
    The Reno City Council voted this week to support energy efficiency and clean energy and to join other public sector groups in the Sustainability Partners in Northern Nevada (SPINN) coalition.