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From a deadly global pandemic and resulting economic upheaval, to record-breaking western wildfires and other climate-fueled disasters, to a national reckoning over racial violence and injustice, 2020 will be remembered for its gauntlet of extraordinary challenges and hardships.
Yet, despite these daunting headwinds, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) was able to achieve significant progress in 2020. Spurred by an increasing commitment to ease the disproportionate burden of energy insecurity on poorer households, we successfully encouraged utilities across the Southwest to expand their energy efficiency programs for lower income customers. SWEEP helped win adoption of beneficial electrification programs at utilities in Utah, Colorado, and Arizona as part of the accelerating transition from fossil fuel-based space and water heating to high efficiency heat pumps and other electric appliances. We proved once again that energy efficiency is both cost effective and bipartisan by securing a goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 for Arizona investor-owned utilities, in addition to updated efficiency targets for utilities in Arizona and New Mexico. Our clean transportation program notched key victories with Nevada’s embrace of clean car standards and Xcel’s first-ever transportation electrification plan to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). SWEEP also successfully championed the adoption of improved statewide building energy codes in New Mexico, and advanced lamp efficiency standards in Nevada.
2020 also represented a time of transition at SWEEP as founder Howard Geller prepared to step down after 20 years at the helm. It is a great honor to step into his admittedly large shoes and I am thrilled to join the SWEEP team and continue the organization’s impressive track record of accomplishment. As the urgency of the climate crisis accelerates, and the magnitude and disparity of its impacts are further magnified, SWEEP’s expertise in identifying and securing effective and equitable solutions is needed more than ever.
My love affair with the West and the environment began at age five. With parents who were teachers, my family had our summers off, and would spend them in western Colorado where I imprinted on the Rocky Mountains and found my calling in environmental advocacy. This career choice took me to Washington, D.C., to learn the policymaking and advocacy process in the halls of Congress, and then back to Colorado to immerse myself in nonprofit management and state-level conservation work during my 13 years as director of Colorado Environmental Coalition (now called Conservation Colorado). More recently, as a Boulder County Commissioner for the past eight years and an Air Quality Control Commissioner for the last two, I’ve gotten to focus more intensively on local and regional sustainability, climate, oil and gas, and transportation policy. I’m now eager to apply my passion and accumulated 30 years of public policymaking experience to leading SWEEP.
This is a challenging and exciting moment in our nation’s history. With the simultaneous imperatives of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and confronting system inequities, there is so much at stake and so much work to be done. At the same time, these turbulent times are ripe with potential for positive change. As we emerge from the dark tunnel of 2020, with renewed leadership at the federal, state, and local levels committed to the vision of a just and healthy energy future, the outlook looks bright indeed. In 2021, SWEEP will adopt its next strategic plan and I hope you will join me in harnessing this momentum and building upon the organization’s impressive foundation of accomplishment as we collectively envision and implement the role SWEEP will play in its next chapter of impact.
July 6, 2021