Regional News Briefs

2004 Archives


Agreement with Public Service of Colorado Will Lead To Increased Energy Savings

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) played an active role in crafting an agreement that will expand energy efficiency programs operated by Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo). The agreement is part of a comprehensive settlement approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on December 17, 2004.

PSCo is expected to reduce peak electricity demand by 320 megawatts and save 800 million kilowatt-hours per year of electricity by 2013. PSCo will spend up to $196 million on energy efficiency and peak reduction programs during 2006-2013 in order to achieve these goals.

"The agreement calls for the greatest commitment to energy efficiency in the history of Colorado," stated Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director. "PSCo will be expanding its energy conservation and efficiency programs as a result of this agreement. Given that PSCo proposed ending company-sponsored energy efficiency programs earlier this year, this agreement represents a significant reversal by PSCo."


SWEEP Submits Testimony Concerning Xcel Energy's Least-Cost Resource Plan

SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller has submitted testimony concerning Xcel Energy's Least-Cost Resource Plan (LCRP) docket that is currently pending in front of the Colorado Public Utility Commission. Dr. Geller's testimony argues that in its LCRP Xcel has neglected to consider the continuation and potential expansion of existing company-sponsored demand-side management programs as an important resource option in meeting the future electricity needs of Xcel customers.


SWEEP Releases Two Fenestration Reports

SWEEP has researched and published two new reports on energy-efficient fenestration devices (windows and doors) for the Southwest. Windows and Window Treatments analyzes the energy performance and cost effectiveness of energy-efficient windows as well as other efficient fenestration products such as window shading devices and insulating shutters. The report finds that low solar gain, low conductivity windows save energy and are cost effective throughout the region. Policies and Programs for Expanding the Use of High Efficiency Fenestration Products in Homes in the Southwest reviews policy and program options for increasing the adoption of energy-saving fenestration products and makes recommendations to energy agencies and utilities in the region.


Report Critiques Xcel Energy's Proposed Colorado Power Plant

The authors of a new report analyzing Xcel Energy's proposed 750-megawatt coal-fired power plant claim that the company is blindly pursuing the plant and not looking at alternatives. The Clean Energy Solution to Xcel Energy's Plans, released on September 1 by Environment Colorado and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, details the economic, environmental, and public health drawbacks to the coal plant Xcel is proposing to build in Pueblo. The report also offers a clean energy alternative - replicating energy efficiency programs Xcel Energy already implements in its home state of Minnesota and adding the amount of renewable energy the company's own analyses find to be cost-effective. The report suggests that the clean energy alternative would save consumers nearly $2 billion over twenty years, compared to building and operating the new coal plant.

New Mexico Governor Convenes Utility Energy Efficiency Task Force

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has convened a Utility Energy Efficiency Task Force to develop policy recommendations for expanding utility energy efficiency programs in New Mexico. Gail Ryba, SWEEP's New Mexico representative, is a member of the Task Force. Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director, gave a presentation entitled Utility Energy Efficiency Programs: Savings Potential, Program Options, and Policy Recommendations at the initial Task Force meeting held on September 23 in Santa Fe.


New Air Conditioner Database Launched

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute have launched a new on-line database of energy-efficient residential and small commercial air conditioners and heat pumps. All products in the database meet CEE's energy efficiency specifications, which include requirements for Energy-Efficiency Ratio (EER) as well as Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The database can be accessed at SWEEP is a member of CEE.

Energy Efficiency Agreement in Arizona

The Arizona Public Service Company has agreed to spend $16 million per year on energy efficiency programs starting in 2005, a substantial increase over the approximately $1 million per year the company currently spends on these programs. The agreement is part of a rate case settlement submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission on August 18, 2004. SWEEP is participating in the rate case and is a key advocate for expanded energy efficiency programs. See SWEEP's press release for more details.


SWEEP Addresses State Utility Regulators

Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director, made a presentation on the status of energy efficiency technologies and efforts at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). Geller urged state utility regulators to view energy efficiency as a strategic resource, support implementation of all cost-effective energy efficiency measures, adopt energy savings goals and program funding mechanisms, and provide utilities with financial incentives to operate effective programs. To view Dr. Geller's presentation, click here.


New Study Shows Substantial Natural Gas Conservation Potential in Utah

A recent study shows that the state of Utah could reduce natural gas use by 20% in residential and commercial buildings by 2013, resulting in net economic benefits of $1.5 billion for natural gas customers over the lifetime of installed energy efficiency measures. The study was sponsored by the Utah Energy Office and Questar Gas, the main natural gas utility in Utah. SWEEP served on the study project's advisory group.

Western Governors Launch Clean Energy Initiative

On June 22, the Western Governors Association (WGA) adopted a clean energy resolution that includes a goal of increasing the efficiency of energy use in western states 20% by 2020. The resolution was proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA). The WGA will establish a new working group to explore the feasibility of and actions needed to achieve this goal. SWEEP helped to develop and defend this initiative.

Phoenix Adopts 2003 International Energy Conservation Code

On June 16, the Phoenix City Council voted 6-3 to adopt the 2003 International Code Council family of codes, including the International Energy Conservation Code, as the model building code for the city of Phoenix. Phoenix, the nation's fifth-largest city, was updating its building codes from the Uniform Building Code. A code review committee established by the Phoenix city manager spent fifteen weeks evaluating the National Fire Protection Association Building Construction and Safety Code (NFPA 5000) and the International Code Council codes (I-Codes), ultimately recommending that the city council adopt the I-Codes.


Energy Efficiency Legislation Adopted in Arizona

In May the Arizona legislature adopted and Gov. Napolitano signed into law House Bill 2703, a bill that clarifies how state agencies can utilize the energy bill savings resulting from performance contracts for energy efficiency projects in their facilities. The bill removes a key obstacle that was inhibiting performance contracting by state government. It follows up on a bill enacted in 2003 that established energy savings goals for state agencies. HB 2703 was sponsored by Representatives Tom Boone (R-Glendale) and Randy Graf (R-Green Valley). SWEEP played a leading role in developing and promoting the bill.

SWEEP Releases Two Evaporative Cooling Reports

SWEEP has released its first pair of reports in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program. A technical report, New Evaporative Cooling Systems: An Emerging Solution for Homes in Hot Dry Climates with Modest Cooling Loads, analyzes the performance of modern evaporative coolers and demonstrates their potential for achieving substantial energy and demand savings in the Southwest. A policy report, Evaporative Cooling Policy and Program Options: Promising Peak Shaving in a Growing Southwest, makes recommendations on how utilities and governmental organizations can best promote modern evaporative cooling.


Richardson and Schwarzenegger Call for Ambitious Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Goals

On April 12, Governors Bill Richardson (D-NM) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) issued a statement calling on the governors of Western U.S. states to adopt goals leading to a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020 and development of at least 30,000 MW of clean energy in the West by 2015. The proposal was unveiled at the Western Governors' Association (WGA) North American Energy Summit organized by Gov. Richardson, and held in mid-April in Albuquerque. The Richardson-Schwarzenegger proposal was discussed at the Summit and will be presented as a formal resolution at the next WGA meeting in June. SWEEP and other clean energy advocates supported the Governors' proposal and prepared background papers that were distributed at the Summit. To learn more about the outcomes of the North American Energy Summit, visit the WGA website at


Eight Southwest Companies Win National Energy Efficiency Awards

Eight companies located in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah won awards at the 2004 ENERGY STAR® Awards Ceremony held March 2nd in Washington, DC. The ENERGY STAR Awards are given annually by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to outstanding companies in the area of energy efficiency.

Winners of 2004 Excellence in Efficient Homes Awards include Ence Homes from St. George, UT; Engle Homes of Colorado from Englewood, CO; Pulte Homes Nevada Operations from Las Vegas, NV; and the Nevada ENERGY STAR Partners program based in Las Vegas, NV. Also, D.R Wastchak, LLC, a home energy rating firm from Tempe, AZ, won an award in this category as did Pardee Homes, a leading builder of energy-efficient homes in Nevada. Six of the ten award winners in this category were from the Southwest region.

The two main electric utilities in Nevada, Nevada Power Company and Sierra Pacific Power Company, won awards in the category of Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Education. The Architectural Energy Corporation from Boulder, CO won a Special Recognition award for its software that helps with the design and rating of energy-efficient homes.

SWEEP Testifies at Arizona Corporation Commission Workshop

SWEEP's Arizona representative Jeff Schlegel testified in front of the Arizona Corporation Commission at its Environmental Portfolio Standard (EPS) Workshops, a series of meetings designed to consider (1) revisions to the state's existing EPS rule, (2) an expanded renewable portfolio standard, and (3) restoring funds to demand side management (DSM) programs. SWEEP's comments focus on the restoration of DSM funding to support energy efficiency programs.

Energy Efficiency Legislative Package Signed in New Mexico

On March 4, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed three bills adopted by the state legislature that will improve the energy efficiency of public buildings and vehicles in New Mexico. House Bill 251, the Advanced Energy Technologies Economic Development Act, establishes a $0.5 million grant program to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects by local governments, community colleges and universities, and tribal entities, and also provides $0.2 million to help develop hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in New Mexico. House Bill 293, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Capital Projects Act, appropriates $2.65 million from the Governor's Capital Outlay Projects Budget to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in state buildings and public schools facilities. And Senate Bill 86, the No Excise Tax on Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Act, exempts gas/electric hybrid cars, trucks, and SUVs that exceed 27.5 mpg from the 3% motor vehicle excise tax. The tax exemption will be in effect for five years starting July 1, 2004.

"The three bills are a good start towards stimulating widespread energy efficiency improvements in New Mexico," commented Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director. "SWEEP urges Governor Richardson, the legislature, and New Mexico's utilities to follow-up by establishing well-funded, long-term energy efficiency programs for all residents and businesses in the state. Doing so would maximize the energy bill savings, pollution reduction, and water savings that come from greater energy efficiency."

Wyoming Business Wins National ENERGY STARĀ® Award

Advocacy for Visual Arts, Inc. (AVA), a Gillette, Wyoming-based small business, has won the 2003 ENERGY STAR for Small Business Award for its success in reducing energy use and educating its staff about energy efficiency. AVA worked with local volunteers and craftsmen to upgrade its building's lighting system, HVAC equipment, and core and shell, and also educated its instructors about the building's energy-efficient features and how to use and maintain them. These efforts have saved AVA over 15,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, and prevented more than 19,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, when compared to the national average of similar unimproved buildings.

SWEEP Presents at Salt River Project Board Meeting

SWEEP's Arizona representative Jeff Schlegel presented the case for energy efficiency to the board of directors of the Salt River Project on March 29. SWEEP is working actively to ensure that energy efficiency and demand-side management programs are included as SRP looks to increase its electricity generation capabilities.


SWEEP Testifies on Energy Efficiency Goals and Funding Levels in Arizona Rate Case

SWEEP recently submitted testimony to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) urging that Arizona Public Service Company greatly expand its energy efficiency program offerings. SWEEP called for electricity savings goals of 7% by 2010 and 17% by 2020, and a rate surcharge of 0.15 cents per kWh to fund expanded energy efficiency programs. Arizona Public Service, the largest investor-owned utility in Arizona, is currently implementing limited energy efficiency programs. SWEEP's testimony is part of an ACC proceeding triggered by a request from the utility for a rate increase.


New Electricity Rates in Utah Encourage Conservation and Peak Load Reduction

On January 30th, the Utah Public Service Commission approved rate increases and new rate designs for PacifiCorp, the primary electric utility in the state. In order to encourage energy conservation and peak load reduction in summer months, the decision includes inverted block rates whereby electricity prices increase as electricity use increases. For residential customers, the electricity price will be 6.7 cents per kWh for usage up to 400 kWh per month, 7.6 cents per kWh for usage between 400 and 1,000 kWh per month, and 9 cents per kWh for usage over 1,000 kWh per month during May through October. Higher summer season rates were approved for commercial and industrial customers. The rate increases also include cost recovery for utility demand-side management programs which are expanding in Utah. The new rates were worked out through a negotiation and settlement that were supported by SWEEP.

Appliance Efficiency Standards Bill Defeated in Colorado Legislature

On January 28, 2004 the Colorado House of Representatives' Transportation and Energy Committee failed to approve a bill sponsored by Rep. Alice Borodkin (D-Denver) that would have set minimum energy efficiency standards on ten products not currently covered by federal efficiency standards, including ceiling fans, TV set top boxes, torchiere lamps, exit signs, and traffic signals. SWEEP estimates that House Bill 1183 would have saved consumers and businesses in Colorado about $465 million and lowered water use by nearly 5 billion gallons during 2005-2020. At least one major new power plant in Colorado would have been avoided if the standards had been adopted. Bills similar to HB 1183 were recently adopted in California and Maryland, and will be introduced in at least eight states in addition to Colorado in 2004. SWEEP's executive director Howard Geller testified at the committee hearing in support of the bill.

Electric Utility Efficiency Standards Bill Defeated in Colorado Legislature

House Bill 1184, sponsored by Rep. Betty Boyd (D-Lakewood) and co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Larson (R-Cortez), was killed in the Colorado House of Representatives' House Transportation and Energy Committee by a 7-6 vote on Wednesday, January 28. SWEEP worked very closely with Rep. Boyd in drafting and advocating for the bill, and Howard Geller, SWEEP's executive director, testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing.

HB 1184 would have directed the state's large investor-owned electric utilities to save one-half percent of their annual retail electricity sales each year between 2005-2020 through cost-effective energy efficiency programs. Utilities that met the savings goal would have been allowed to recover the costs of and make a small profit on the programs through a small rate increase that would have been applied to all customers. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission would have provided oversight over the requirements, by monitoring the projections of the utilities and ensuring that the savings targets were being met.

SWEEP estimates that consumers and businesses in Colorado would have saved over $1 billion net during 2005-2020—actual electricity bill savings minus the cost of the energy efficiency programs. Reducing electricity use by 7.5% in 2020 would have eliminated the need for one or more power plants totaling 450 MW in capacity. As electricity generation is a water-intensive process, about 1.3 billion gallons of water per year would have been saved by 2020, and due to the need for less electricity, power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, and carbon dioxide would also have been reduced.