Arizonans Have Reason to Celebrate National Energy Efficiency Day Oct. 5; But savings may be jeopardized if utilities cut back programs

Arizonans today can celebrate how energy efficiency helps them save money, conserve water, and create jobs by joining National Energy Efficiency Day 2018, said the state’s leading clean energy organizations.

“This is a day to recognize all the advantages of energy efficiency in saving consumers money and creating jobs,” said Jeff Schlegel, Arizona representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).

“At a time when the state is wrestling with drought and ongoing air pollution issues in Central Arizona, energy efficiency is more crucial than ever, because it cost-effectively saves water and reduces pollution,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, senior climate policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates.  

Energy efficiency creates about 2.2 million U.S. jobs that can’t be outsourced, including approximately 41,800 workers in Arizona, says the National Association of State Energy Officials.

From 2010-2017, every $1 of ratepayer invested in energy efficiency by Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric returned about $3.93 in benefits to ratepayers. In just 2017, energy efficiency also saved around 2.1 billion gallons of water from the reduced operation of thermal power plants, enough to supply about 20,000 typical Arizona households. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranks Arizona’s utility energy savings among the best in the country.

Arizona’s population soared (averaging 1.34 percent yearly growth for about the past five years), but consumption of electricity increased less than one percent annually during that same time. So, Arizonans are learning to save energy faster than our population is growing, SWEEP’s studies show.

But these savings could be jeopardized if Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) are allowed to slash programs that encourage consumers to use energy efficiently. In 2017, APS invested a total of $58.9 million for programs that encourage consumers to trim their energy use, but in 2018, it slashed this budget by more than 25 percent, to just $42.2 million.

“We hope the Arizona Corporation Commission will step in and require TEP and APS to restore and expand funding for energy efficiency,” SWEEP’s Schlegel said. 

Schlegel also noted the importance of wise energy use in transportation, since car and truck emissions are major air pollution sources and worsen Phoenix’s ozone problems. SWEEP supports Arizona’s participation with neighboring states in creating a network of electric vehicle charging stations along major highways.

About SWEEP: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. www.swenergy.org

About WRA: Western Resource Advocates has spent over 25 years protecting the West’s land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance with nature.  https://westernresourceadvocates.org/