Regional News Briefs

2007 Archives


New Mexico Becomes 13th State to Adopt California GHG Limits on New Cars

After two days of joint hearings, the Albuquerque-Bernalillo Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) and the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) adopted Clean Car standards to reduce air pollution and global warming emissions from new cars, trucks, and SUVs beginning in 2011. This makes New Mexico the thirteenth state to adopt the Clean Car program.

Initiated in California, the Clean Car program has been adopted by twelve other states: Maine, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, and Oregon. States currently considering the standards include Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Florida.

The Clean Cars program consists of three elements. First, the low emission vehicle (LEV II) program sets strict standards for traditional air pollutants. Second, the green house gas emissions standards set a fleet-wide average emission standard that the major automakers need to achieve. Third, the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) program helps to drive further technological development by requiring automakers to invest in researching and producing advanced-technology vehicles.

If fully implemented, by 2016, new cars would emit approximately 34% fewer global warming gases, while light-duty trucks would produce 25% less.

Colorado Energy Efficiency Business Coalition Formed

On December 3, the formation of the Colorado Energy Efficiency Business Coalition (CEEBC) was announced at the ENERGY STAR Summit held in Denver.

The new coalition was formed to support policies, programs, and business practices that will increase the market for energy efficiency products and services by identifying and supporting opportunities for increasing energy efficiency investment; building support by recruiting members from across the energy efficiency industry; being a voice for the energy efficiency industry as policies and programs are being debated; advocating for more energy efficiency investment by the state, utilities, and local governments; and keeping its members informed about energy efficiency programs and policies.

SWEEP is a founding member of CEEBC, along with companies such as Owens Corning, Johns Manville, Lennox, Trane, Comfort Air, and Champion Windows.

Sierra Pacific Power Receives Approval to Expand DSM Programs, Nevada Power Files for Program Expansion

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada has approved Sierra Pacific Power Company's request to expand their DSM programs to a funding level of about $10 million per year during 2008-2010. At this funding level, the utility projects it will achieve first year savings of 86 GWh/yr on average. This is equivalent to saving about 1.0% of its retail electricity sales from DSM programs each year. Sierra Pacific Power provides electricity in northern Nevada. In addition, Nevada Power Company recently filed proposed amendments to its DSM programs that would increase funding to about $44 million per year and result in first year savings of 184 GWh/yr in 2008-09. This is equivalent to saving over 0.9% of this utility's retail electricity sales from DSM programs each year. Nevada Power provides electricity in southern Nevada. SWEEP assisted the utilities in developing new and expanded DSM programs, and filed testimony before the PUCN on these issues.


Utah Utility Commission Maintains Decoupling Mechanism for Questar Gas

The Public Service Commission of Utah issued an order on November 5 that continues the so-called Conservation Enabling Tariff (CET) for the remaining two years of its pilot phase. This tariff decouples gas utility sales and fixed cost recovery, thereby removing any disincentive to the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation by natural gas utilities. Questar Gas Company, the one investor-owned gas utility in Utah, has initiated comprehensive energy efficiency programs for its residential and commercial customers in conjunction with approval of this tariff. SWEEP along with its partner Utah Clean Energy supported continuation of the CET.

Colorado Governor Announces Climate Action Plan and Emissions Reduction Goals

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter unveiled Colorado's first Climate Action Plan on November 5. The plan includes goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050, and also strategies for moving toward these goals, including establishing stronger energy efficiency policies and programs in Colorado and joining other states in adopting Clean Car Standards for new passenger vehicles. SWEEP assisted the Colorado Governor's Energy Office in developing the energy efficiency portion of the Climate Action Plan.

SWEEP Releases Report on High Performance Homes

On November 14, SWEEP released a new report that suggests there is enormous potential for energy and cost savings by making new homes highly energy efficient. High Performance Homes in the Southwest: Savings Potential, Cost Effectiveness and Policy Options evaluates the energy and cost savings potential from constructing more efficient new homes in five Southwest states, and makes policy recommendations to achieve greater energy savings in new homes. High performance homes consume 40-60% less energy than typical new homes. Constructing large numbers of high performance and net-zero energy homes in the southwest could save 2.7 billion kWh by 2020-enough power to serve 25,000 households annually for ten years-and reduce peak electricity demand by 1,400 megawatts. The following are links to the executive summary of the study, the complete study, a fact sheet, and SWEEP's press release.

SWEEP Announces Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award Winners

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) recently announced the winners of its 2007 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award. The award is given annually to policy makers and others who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is being honored for adopting a strong statewide energy efficiency goal. On November 14, the Governor announced an Executive Order setting goals of reducing total energy use per capita in the state 10 percent by 2012 and 20 percent by 2020, relative to 2005 per capita energy use.

In September, the City of Albuquerque adopted a High-Performance Building Ordinance that will minimize the environmental impacts of residential and commercial buildings by more efficiently using energy, water, and materials. The ordinance was developed through efforts led by Mayor Martin Chávez and City Councilor Isaac Benton.

Nevada State Senator Michael Schneider and Nevada State Assemblyman David Bobzien are being honored for their work on Assembly Bill 178, now law in Nevada, which establishes a minimum energy efficiency performance standard for general-purpose lamps sold in the state beginning in 2012. AB 178 effectively bans today's general service incandescent light bulbs.

New Mexico Gov. Richardson Establishes Energy Efficiency Goals for State

On November 16, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed Executive Order 2007-053, setting goals of reducing energy use per capita in the state 10% below 2005 levels by 2012 and 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. The Order also directs state agencies to reduce their energy use 20% by 2015. Governor Richardson also announced his support for a number of legislative and budgetary initiatives to advance energy efficiency in the 2008 legislative session (see press release). SWEEP assisted the Governor's Office in developing the goals and initiatives.


City of Albuquerque Adopts Green Building Ordinance

The City of Albuquerque's ‘High Performance Building Ordinance', adopted by the Albuquerque City Council on September 17, 2007, establishes building design and construction code requirements that are designed to minimize the environmental impacts of residential and commercial buildings in Albuquerque by using energy, water and materials more efficiently. The requirements apply to new construction and remodeling or repairs to equipment and systems in existing buildings.

The energy efficiency features of the ordinance include high-efficiency HVAC requirements; enhanced building insulation and sealing requirements; ‘cool roof' requirements; requires 70 percent or more of light fixtures in all residential buildings to be ENERGY STAR-rated, high-efficiency fluorescent tubes, or CFLs; high-efficiency water heating requirements; and clothes washers, freezers, refrigerators, and dishwashers must be ENERGY STAR certified.

The Ordinance was developed by the Albuquerque City Council and the Mayor's Green Ribbon Task Force. The City will periodically review and update the code to reflect advancements in technology, construction standards, and public policy. The City will also offer incentives for high-performance, beyond-code buildings, and a financial assistance program to help elderly and low-income homeowners comply with the Ordinance.

City of Albuquerque Green Building Programs

High Performance Buildings Ordinance

Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy Released

On October 16 SWEEP and Utah Clean Energy submitted its Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy to Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. The Strategy includes recommendations for new policies and programs to meet the Governor's goal of increasing energy efficiency in Utah 20% by 2015. Implementing these policies and programs would save consumers and businesses in Utah more than $7 billion, according to the new report. "The Utah Energy Efficiency Strategy provides a blueprint for achieving enormous energy savings, substantial economic benefits, and reduced pollutant emissions. It demonstrates that aggressively pursuing energy efficiency is a winning strategy for Utah's citizens, businesses, government and environment," Governor Huntsman said on release of the Strategy.

Testimony Filed in Nevada Resource Planning Docket

SWEEP's Executive Director Howard Geller submitted testimony on behalf of Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy (NCARE), regarding demand-side management (DSM) programs proposed by Sierra Pacific Power Company as part of its Integrated Resource Plan for 2008-2027. The Company, which supplies power to Reno and surrounding areas in northern Nevada, has proposed doubling its DSM budget and achieving a 1% reduction in load growth from DSM programs implemented each year during 2008-2010. Dr. Geller's testimony recommended a number of improvements to SPPC's DSM proposals.

Xcel Energy Proposes Major Expansion of DSM Programs in Colorado

Xcel Energy, the largest investor-owned electric utility operating in Colorado, has proposed investing $738 million in demand-side management (DSM) programs over the period 2009-2020. With this level of DSM investment, the company expects to achieve 694 MW of peak demand reduction and 2,351 GWh of electricity savings by 2020 from programs implemented beginning in 2009. The latter value is equivalent to about 9% of Xcel's total retail electricity sales as of 2006. The Company also projects over $1.3 billion in net economic benefits for consumers and businesses from its proposal. For further details, see the two links below.


SWEEP Releases Building Energy Code Report

SWEEP this month released its most recent report, Building Energy Codes in Arizona: Best Practices in Code Support, Compliance, and Enforcement. Prepared for NAIMA, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, the report identifies the best management practices currently employed across Arizona in regards to energy code support, compliance, and enforcement.

Key findings include: Education and training for building industry professionals and code officials and inspectors is essential; regular interaction between the municipal code department and the building industry is important for exchanging information regarding code updates, code compliance options, and innovative construction techniques; leading building departments make it easy for inspectors to enforce codes by providing them with compliance software, simple code checklists, and training; an "energy code champion" within the building department is critical to ensuring that energy code support, compliance, and enforcement is a high priority; and best management practices lay the groundwork for communities to pursue beyond-energy code green building programs.

SWEEP Files Testimony on DSM Docket in Nevada

SWEEP recently testified in Nevada Public Utility Commission dockets concerning shareholder incentives for demand-side management programs. In its testimony, SWEEP supported the continuation of the additional return on equity that investor-owned utilities in Nevada can earn on their DSM investments.


Western Climate Initiative Releases Regional Goal Statement

As follow-up to it February 2007 formation, the Western Climate Initiative this month announced a regional goal to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 50% - 80% below current levels by 2050. Since its formation membership in the WCI has expanded, and now includes the U.S. states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba. Actions to achieve the goal will be comprehensive and economy-wide, and will include regional market-based mechanisms that target the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, waste management, agriculture, and forestry sectors.

Tucson Electric Power Submits Demand-Side Management Plan

Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) recently submitted a demand-side management (DSM) program plan covering the years 2008 - 2012 for review and approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission. The TEP plan proposes ten different DSM programs for residential and business customers, with a total budget of $63.3 million over five years and $12.4 million in 2008 alone. The latter represents about 1.5% of TEP's annual retail sales revenue. The company estimates that the programs would result in 183 MW of coincident peak demand reduction and 212 GWh per year of electricity savings, while providing $81.4 million in net economic benefits for consumers, by the end of 2012. SWEEP assisted TEP with the preparation of this new DSM plan.

Arizona Public Service Receives Approval for DSM Incentive Mechanism

The Arizona Corporation Commission recently approved a demand-side management (DSM) incentive mechanism for Arizona Public Service (APS). In addition to normal cost recovery, the incentive allows the utility to earn a bonus of 10% of the net economic benefits resulting from its DSM programs in any year, capped at 10% of the utility's total DSM program expenditures. This is the incentive proposed by APS and supported by SWEEP in APS's most recent rate case. For details, see the DSM section Final Opinion and Order by clicking here.

New Mexico Commission Approves DSM Programs Proposed by PNM

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has approved nine demand-side management programs proposed by Public Service of New Mexico (PNM). The programs have a total first year budget of $7.5 million, equivalent to about 1.3% of PNM's retail sales revenue. The programs include residential lighting, new homes, air conditioning load control, and refrigerator recycling programs; commercial lighting and load control programs; and promotion of energy-efficient evaporative cooling technology. In addition, PNM will implement a self-direction program for its larger customers. SWEEP assisted PNM with the development of the programs and supported their approval before the PRC.



ENERGY STAR's recently released 2006 market index for new homes shows that the Southwest region continues to have among the highest rates of ENERGY STAR market penetration for new homes in the nation. In 2006, nearly 1 in 3 new single-family homes built in the Southwest were ENERGY STAR qualified. Three Southwest states (Nevada, Arizona, and Utah) have market penetration rates that are significantly greater than the national average rate of 12%. The number of new ENERGY STAR single-family homes built annually in the Southwest region annually has nearly doubled between 2003 and 2006.

Homes that earn the Energy Star offer homeowners all the features they want in a new home, plus energy-efficiency improvements that deliver better performance, greater comfort, and lower utility bills (up to $400 in annual savings), all while helping to protect the environment. ENERGY STAR Homes are at least 15% more efficient than the 2004 International Residential Code, and are typically 20-30% more efficient than non-ENERGY STAR homes.

For more information, visit ENERGY STAR New Homes.

Sierra Pacific Power Proposes Expanded DSM Programs

Sierra Pacific Power Co., the investor-owned utility serving northern Nevada, has proposed a significant expansion of its DSM programs as part of a new Integrated Resource Plan recently filed with the Public Utilities Commission. The utility is requesting approval of 14 DSM programs at a budget of around $10 million per year during 2008-2010. For comparison, the utility spent less than $5 million per year on DSM programs as of 2006-2007. SWEEP assisted the Sierra Pacific Power with the design of new and expanded programs. For more details, see report.


Building Code Legislation Signed in Colorado

On May 3, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law House Bill 07-1146, legislation that will strengthen building codes throughout the state. HB-1146 requires all cities and counties with building codes to adopt and enforce a relatively up-to-date building energy code. This will ensure that all new residential and commercial buildings in these jurisdictions are at least moderately energy efficient. It is more cost-effective to build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings than to attempt to retrofit efficiency measures into buildings after they are constructed. The extra first cost for meeting up-to-date energy codes is relatively small relative to the value of the energy savings over the life of the building.

SWEEP estimates that HB-1146 could save consumers and businesses $500 million, assuming it affects 20% of new homes and commercial buildings built in Colorado during 2008-2020.

To learn more about HB-1146 and other SWEEP legislative efforts, click here.

SWEEP's Executive Director Pens ASE Guest Column

Howard Geller, SWEEP's Executive Director, contributed a Guest Column to the Alliance to Save Energy's May 2007 State Energy Efficiency Policy Bulletin. "Energy Efficiency on the Rise in the Southwest" outlines the progress that has been made in recent years to grow utility-sponsored electric demand-side management programs in the Southwest. Program spending has grown from less than $50 million in 2003 to over $130 million in 2007.

Utility Demand-Side Management Legislation Signed in Colorado

On May 22, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law House Bill 07-1037. Sponsored by Representative Claire Levy and Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, the policy will facilitate the expansion and implementation of utility electricity and natural gas energy efficiency programs, helping consumers reduce their energy use and lower energy bills. SWEEP estimates that households and businesses in Colorado will save $1.2 billion as a result of this legislation. At the same time, less water will be consumed and less pollution will be emitted by power plants.

HB 1037 directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to establish energy savings goals and provide positive financial incentives for utility energy efficiency programs. These programs educate consumers and provide incentives to residents and businesses that purchase energy-efficient lights, appliances, insulation, and other conservation measures. Utility energy efficiency programs must produce benefits that exceed their costs, according to the legislation.

To learn more about HB-1037 and other SWEEP legislative efforts, click here.


SWEEP Describes Energy Efficiency's Role in Reducing Global Warming

SWEEP's Arizona Representative Jeff Schlegel presented to Phoenix-based Salt River Project, one of the major electricity and natural gas utilities in Arizona, about the potential energy efficiency holds in addressing climate change. With Arizona's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions projected to increase 148% by 2020, energy efficiency has the potential to provide one-third of the emissions reductions needed to meet the goals established by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, of reducing GHG emissions to 2000 levels by 2020, and 50% below 2000 levels by 2040. Pursuing this energy efficiency potential would also result in $5.5 billion in net economic benefits for the state.

SWEEP Releases New Report with the Center of the American West

What is the cleanest, least risky, and most economical source of energy? Wind? Solar? In fact, the most promising energy source of all is the energy saved by cutting waste and increasing efficiency. This is the central claim of What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation: A Guide to a New Relationship, a new report jointly prepared by SWEEP and the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

What Every Westerner Should Know About Energy Efficiency and Conservation provides information on how Westerners use energy now; the enormous benefits of greater energy efficiency and conservation; practical recommendations for saving energy; profiles of exemplary Western citizens, businesses, and governmental entities; the barriers to greater energy efficiency and how to overcome them; and what governments and utilities can do to promote greater energy efficiency.

Colorado Governor Ritter Issues ‘Greening of Government' Order

Gov. Bill Ritter today put an exclamation point on the New Energy Economy accomplishments of his first 100 days in office by issuing a "Greening of State Government" executive order. The executive order establishes a goal of achieving at least a 20% reduction in energy consumption of state facilities below fiscal year 2005-2006 levels by fiscal year 2011-2012, and the goal of developing an energy management plan and studying the feasibility of energy performance contracting for all state owned facilities, by January 2008. Gov. Ritter also renamed the Office of Energy Management and Conservation to the Governor's Energy Office, to better reflect the agency's broader mission of advancing Colorado's New Energy Economy.


Energy Efficiency Legislation Adopted in New Mexico

The New Mexico State Legislature concluded its 2007 session on March 16. Two useful energy efficiency provisions were adopted this year, one that provides state income tax incentives for energy-efficient LEED-certified new homes and commercial buildings, and a second that makes changes to the 2005 Efficient Use of Energy Act concerning utility energy efficiency programs. Both of these changes should facilitate the expansion of utility energy efficiency programs in New Mexico, programs that to date have been limited in budget and scope. For details, visit SWEEP's 2007 Legislative Activities.

Utah Governor Signs Energy Efficiency Legislation

On March 16, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman signed into law House Bill 351, sponsored by Representative Roger Barrus of Centerville. Designed to help remove the barrier of capital constraints for energy efficiency investments, HB 351 will save energy and tax payer dollars, and prevent pollution. The bill establishes a revolving loan fund to provide low-interest loans (2 to 3%) for energy efficiency projects to K-12 schools through a one-time appropriation of $5 million. Loans would be provided for retrofit of existing buildings as well as energy efficiency upgrades to new buildings. In addition to loans, technical assistance would also be provided to help public agencies and school districts conduct energy audits, design and implement energy efficiency projects, and maximize energy savings. This program would be modeled after successful loan funds created in Iowa (Iowa Energy Bank) and Texas (Texas Loan Star). For additional information on House Bill 351, visit SWEEP's 2007 Legislative Activities or the website of the Utah State Legislature.

SWEEP Presents at ACEEE Market Transformation Symposium

SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller was asked to provide a presentation for the 2007 National Symposium on Market Transformation, held March 20 and 21 in Washington D.C., and sponsored by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Update on Energy Efficiency Efforts in the Southwest gives the latest report on utility demand-side management (DSM) spending in the states in which SWEEP works, including Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Utility DSM spending in 2007 is expected to reach approximately $134 million, up from just $29 million in 2002. As Dr. Geller could not personally attend the symposium, his presentation was give by Marc Hoffman, Executive Director of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.


SWEEP Submits Comments on Financial Incentives for DSM Programs in Nevada

SWEEP Nevada Representative Steve Wiel submitted testimony to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) regarding the financial incentives that investor-owned utilities should be given to stimulate their investment in demand-side management (DSM) programs. SWEEP recommends that utilities be allowed to earn a higher-than-normal rate of return on DSM investments, with the return tied to the cost effectiveness of the DSM programs and the level of energy savings and peak demand reduction achieved (see testimony for details). The PUCN has opened a docket on this issue. Click here to read Mr. Wiel's testimony.

Public Service Company of New Mexico Proposes Nine Electricity DSM Programs

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) has proposed initiating nine electricity DSM programs with a total projected first year budget of $7.5 million. The proposal, submitted to the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission for review and approval, includes both energy efficiency and load management programs for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The proposed programs are expected to reduce electricity use by 84 GWh per year and cut peak demand by up to 64 MW (including dispatchable demand) by 2010. SWEEP assisted PNM in planning the DSM programs. For more details, see the links below.

Colorado Public Utilities Commission Investigating DSM Policies

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission recently opened an investigatory docket to examine demand-side management (DSM) policies in the state. To that end, on February 8 the commission held a day-long DSM workshop for PUC commissioners and other interested parties. The presentations below outline the history of DSM policy in Colorado, and explore opportunities for change and greater effectiveness.

Five Western States form Western Regional Climate Action Initiative

The Governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington recently announced the formation of the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative to implement a joint strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Governors Janet Napolitano, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Richardson, Ted Kulongoski, and Chris Gregoire signed the agreement that directs their respective states to, within the next six months, develop a regional target for reducing greenhouse gases. During the next 18 months, they will devise a market-based program, such as a load-based cap and trade program, to reach the target. The five states also have agreed to participate in a multi-state registry to track and manage greenhouse gas emissions in their region.

Individually, the five states have shown national and international leadership as they tackle global warming, with each state having adopted or committed to adopting state reduction goals, clean tailpipe standards, mandatory emissions reporting, and renewable portfolio standards to accelerate the transition to non-fossil fuel based energy sources.


SWEEP Testifies Regarding Energy Efficiency Programs for Tucson Electric Power

SWEEP's Arizona Representative Jeff Schlegel filed testimony before the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) regarding energy efficiency programs implemented by Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP). SWEEP urged the ACC to direct TEP to greatly expand energy efficiency programs for its customers and to set energy savings goals, including obtaining at least 15% of the company's energy resources from efficiency programs by 2020. SWEEP estimates that achieving the goals would save TEP's consumers and businesses over $450 million net and eliminate the need for about 500 MW of new power plants by 2020. SWEEP is an intervener in a rate case filed by TEP. Click here to read Mr. Schlegel's testimony.

Utah Public Service Commission Approves Natural Gas DSM Programs

The Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved Questar Gas Company's application to initiate five natural gas demand-side management programs for residential and commercial customers. The estimated first-year budget for these programs is $7.0 million. Programs implemented in 2007 alone are expected to yield $8.8 million in net benefits for consumers. Click here to learn more about this ruling.

New Colorado Governor Makes Commitment to Energy Efficiency

Recently-elected Colorado Governor Bill Ritter kicked off his governorship with a "State of the State" address to the Colorado General Assembly on January 11, 2007. Amongst the many policy highlights of his address, Gov. Ritter committed by executive order to adopting the Western Governors' Association (WGA) goal of achieving a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency statewide by 2020. Colorado thus joins other Southwest states, including Arizona and Utah, in formally committing to meeting this goal.

  • Click here to learn more about the WGA energy efficiency goal.
  • Click here to read Governor Bill Ritter's "State of the State" Address.