Regional News Briefs

2013 Archives


Arizona Commission Unanimously Approves UNS Electric Energy Efficiency Plan

The Arizona Corporation Commission unanimously approved the adoption of UNS Electric’s latest energy efficiency implementation plan. The approval provides a $5.4 million budget for continuation of energy saving opportunities for the utility’s customers in 2014.  

As part of the approval, the Commission required UNS to continue planning for future energy efficiency programs. It also created an opportunity for new energy efficiency measures to be considered for Commission approval as early as May 2014. SWEEP advocated for approval of the plan in its comments before the Commission. SWEEP also strongly supported several amendments that were developed by Arizona’s residential advocate, the Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO). UNS Electric serves about 92,000 customers located mainly in northwestern Arizona.

PUCN Approves NV Energy’s Energy Efficiency Plan

In a victory for the advancement of energy efficiency in Nevada, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) recently approved NV Energy’s demand-side management plans. Sierra Pacific Power Company (SPPC) received approval to spend $35.7 million over the next three years, and Nevada Power Company (NPC) received approval to spend $50.3 million in 2014. SWEEP, through the Nevada-based collaborative organization Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy (NCARE), was instrumental in getting new programs approved and suspended programs revived, and in fending off budget cuts proposed by the state’s consumer advocate.

In both service territories, a Home Energy Reports program will be launched next year that will provide reports on comparative electricity use to residential customers. The Residential Lighting program, which had been on hold since 2011, will be re-launched in both utilities as well. The SPPC plan will result in savings of 162 GWh per year at the end of the three-year plan period and net economic benefits to customers of nearly $29 million. In 2014, the NPC plan will result in savings of 149 GWh per year and net benefits of $38 million.


SWEEP Announces 2013 Energy Efficiency Award Winners

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is pleased to announce the presentation of its 2013 "Leadership in Energy Efficiency" Awards, given to individuals and organizations who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest. Xcel Energy and the City of Fort Collins Utilities received leadership awards for highly effective energy efficiency programs that are exceeding energy savings goals. Patti Lynn Case, a principal in the firm ETC Group based in Salt Lake City, was honored for her contributions to greater energy efficiency in the industrial sector. 


SWEEP Hosts 10th Annual Southwest Energy Efficiency Workshop in Boulder, Colorado

On November 21 and 22, 2013, regional and national energy efficiency professionals gathered in Boulder, Colorado to discuss the state of utility energy efficiency programs in the Southwest at SWEEP's 10th Annual Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop. Participants learned about new and emerging program opportunities that can help utilities achieve even greater energy savings in the future.

The workshop provides an annual forum for regional utility, regulatory, state, and nonprofit representatives to hear about the status of utility demand-side management programs in the Southwest, get updated on energy efficiency potential, and learn about innovative energy efficiency programs and technologies. The 2013 workshop featured presentations by 15 electric and gas utilities that operate in the Southwest, and national experts discussed special topics such as upstream incentive programs, uniform measurement and verification methods, and data analytics. In addition, SWEEP's Annual "Leadership in Energy Efficiency" Awards were presented to individuals and organizations who demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest. The 2013 workshop was sponsored by Xcel Energy.


Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations Provide Recommendations on Forthcoming Carbon Emissions Standards

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and four other regional energy efficiency organizations working in 42 states have issued recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning carbon emissions standards for existing power plants. The report, Incentivizing and Providing Appropriate Credit for Energy Efficiency Improvement in Forthcoming CO2 Emissions Standards for Existing Power Plants, is intended to help the EPA craft standards that enable states to make full use of greater energy efficiency as a low-cost emissions reduction strategy. Howard Geller, SWEEP’s Executive Director, is the primary author of the report. The EPA is expected to issue proposed carbon emissions standards for existing power plants by June 1, 2014 and final standards by June 1, 2015.



New Mexico Commission Approves PNM's Energy Efficiency Programs

On November 7, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) approved a two-year plan and $22.5 million annual investment in residential and commercial energy efficiency programs submitted by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). Implementing the two-year plan is expected to save 82.5 million kWh per year in households and businesses served by PNM. While it approved all of the programs PNM requested, the PRC disallowed carbon credits as a factor in calculating the cost-effectiveness of PNM’s energy efficiency programs. SWEEP’s testimony in the case supported PNM’s commitment to innovative new programs that increase energy savings under the Energy Use and Efficiency Act, which calls for five percent savings in 2014 compared to 2005 energy use.



Utah PSC Opens Up EV Charging Station Sale of Electricity

On October 1, the Utah Public Service Commission approved Rocky Mountain Power’s request to modify a tariff to clarify that “Electric Vehicle (EV) Battery Charging Service is Not Considered Resale of Electricity.” This is an important step that opens up the flexibility for the private sector to develop workable business models for electric vehicle charging stations. This makes Utah the second southwestern state to take such action, alongside Colorado. SWEEP and Utah Clean Energy advocated on behalf of this policy, and supported Rocky Mountain Power's request of the PSC.



Salt River Project Reports Very Strong Energy Savings in Fiscal Year 2013

Salt River Project (SRP), Arizona's second largest electric utility, reports that it achieved annual energy savings of 626.6 GWh per year from energy efficiency programs implemented during its 2013 fiscal year, which ended in May of this year. The energy savings delivered were equivalent to 2.25% of the utility's retail electricity sales, placing SRP in the top tier of utilities nationwide with respect to this metric. The utility exceeded its annual energy savings goal of 1.5% per year by a wide margin. SRP's residential programs exceeded their energy savings goal by 73% while commercial programs  exceeded their goal by 47%.  Meanwhile, SRP program expenditures came in under budget. SWEEP applauds SRP for its very strong performance implementing energy efficiency programs during the 2013 fiscal year.



Utah Offers Farmers and Ranchers Low-to-No-Cost Energy Audits

Utah's Office of Energy Development has created a new Agriculture Producer Energy Efficiency program, designed to assist Utah's farmers, ranchers, dairymen and other agriculture producers in finding ways to reduce energy and water demand at their operations and save money.

Still in its first year, the program provides energy efficiency audits at very low or no cost.  The program targets those who have outdated fluorescent lights, coolers, fans, motors, pumps, compressors, irrigation systems and other equipment. Visit Utah's Office of Energy Development, Perry Thomson, for information.


Passing the Baton in Nevada: Farewell to Steve Wiel, and Welcome Tom Polikalas!

After eight years serving as SWEEP's Nevada Representative, Steve Wiel is retiring and moving on to other endeavors. Steve played a key role in supporting the scale up of utility energy efficiency programs in Nevada along with adoption of policies to foster this trend. Steve also contributed to other state policies and programs that are saving ratepayers in Nevada hundreds of millions of dollars. We thank Steve for his years of service and wish him all the best in his retirement, although we know he will stay involved in energy policy matters in Nevada and elsewhere.  

Please join us in welcoming aboard Tom Polikalas, SWEEP's new Nevada Representative. Tom is a strong advocate of energy efficiency as a powerful tool the Southwest states can use to create jobs, spur economic development, conserve resources and benefit the environment. He has extensive experience in the economics of residential energy efficiency. Prior to joining SWEEP, Tom worked for rural electric cooperatives in Colorado and Nevada, promoting award-winning energy efficiency programs over the past 15 years. He has also worked for the Nevada Office of Energy and the state's Division of Environmental Protection.


EPA Updates Its Online ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for Benchmarking Commercial Energy and Water Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its online resource for tracking energy and water consumption in commercial buildings. The new version of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager offers a more user-friendly interface which allows for easier data entry.  Users now are able to generate custom reports and evaluate the performance of buildings from design through construction.  The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool is available for free online and has already helped thousands of commercial building owners reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.



Arizona Corporation Commission Expands Energy Efficiency Funding for Tucson Electric Power Company

The Arizona Corporation Commission expanded funding for existing programs that help Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) customers save money and energy on their utility bills. The decision was made as part of the approval of the electric company’s rate case. The decision also approved a lost fixed cost revenue recovery mechanism, which is intended to remove some of the financial disincentives the utility faces as it implements money-and-energy saving programs for customers. SWEEP actively participated in the rate case proceedings and supported an expansion of energy efficiency offerings for the benefit of customers. SWEEP’s testimony highlighted the important role energy efficiency plays in enabling the utility to meet the energy needs of its customers over the next 15 years.


Rocky Mountain Power Expands its Business Energy Efficiency Programs in Utah

On July 1, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) launched an updated and expanded set of energy efficiency offerings for businesses in its Utah service territory. All previous business efficiency programs were consolidated into one comprehensive program in order to reduce complexity and confusion among customers. In the new program, the list of measures eligible for prescriptive incentives was expanded, incentives were increased for a number of efficiency measures, and the incentive cap was raised from 50% to 70% of total project cost. In addition, RMP introduced co-funding for building and facility energy managers and a performance-based incentive to encourage energy savings from ongoing energy management efforts.

Energy efficiency programs are approved as a tariff in Utah. Click here for a copy of RMP’s tariff describing the new and expanded energy efficiency offerings.


Western Governors’ Association Publishes 10-Year Energy Vision

On June 29, the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) issued a 10-Year Energy Vision for Western states along with State of Energy in the West and Governors’ Energy Perspectives reports. The 10-Year Energy Vision contains six goals, one of which is to increase energy efficiency and productivity. Under this goal the Energy Vision calls for supporting and enhancing cost-effective utility energy efficiency programs, greater adoption of state-of-the-art building energy codes and stimulating new construction that exceeds minimum codes, and reducing industrial energy intensity through tools such as demand-side management programs and combined heat and power. Howard Geller, SWEEP’s Executive Director, along with Sarah Wright from Utah Clean Energy, drafted the energy efficiency portions of the 10-Year Energy Vision and the State of Energy in the West documents at the request of the WGA.

The WGA is an independent organization representing the Governors of 19 western states. Visit for a copy of the 10-Year Energy Vision, along with the other reports.     



AZ Legislature Preserves Local Control of Building Energy Efficiency Codes

The 2013 Arizona legislature concluded on Friday, June 14, 2013 and preserved the ability of Arizona municipalities and their elected officials to make housing more affordable and to deliver cost-savings for constituents through the adoption of better building energy codes. Had it received support, HB2404 would have limited the energy cost savings for homeowners by overruling the growing number of cities and towns that have adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. SWEEP opposed the bill because it would have prevented Arizona families from lowering their utility bills and saving money. The bill was also opposed by jurisdictions across the state because it would have taken away local control and mandated new regulations without providing funding for enforcement. 


SWEEP Launches Guide to Energy Efficiency Financing Programs

SWEEP has added a new section to its web site, a listing and summary of all energy efficiency financing programs offered in the six states we operate in. The programs are sponsored by banks, state and local governments and utilities, and are growing in number and flexibility each year. This new guide is meant to assist households and businesses to identify financing options that can facilitate implementation of energy efficiency projects.


Fort Collins Utilities' Energy Efficiency Programs Continued To Shine in 2012

The City of Fort Collins Utilities reports that its 2012 energy efficiency programs helped its customers save more than 23,000 MWh of electricity per year, equivalent to 1.5% of the community’s annual usage. Most of the energy savings resulted from the commercial lighting and home energy reports programs. As a result of efficiency programs implemented during 2007-12, the utility has helped its customers reduce their electricity use 7% on average, and at a utility cost of only 2.3 cents per kWh, less than half the utility's wholesale cost of power. Fort Collins Utilities is a municipal utility serving about 67,000 customers in Fort Collins, CO.



PacifiCorp Boosts Support for Energy Efficiency in New Integrated Resource Plan

PacifiCorp, the main investor-owned utility in Utah and Wyoming through its Rocky Mountain Power subsidiary, has issued its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The 2013 IRP calls for an expansion of the utility’s energy efficiency programs over the next 10 years despite lower projected load growth compared to that in the 2011 IRP. In the preferred portfolio in the 2013 IRP, energy efficiency resources meet 67 percent of projected load growth during 2013-22. The IRP action plan identifies the steps that PacifiCorp will take to accelerate acquisition of cost-effective energy efficiency resources. SWEEP and its partner Utah Clean Energy (UCE) provided input and influenced PacifiCorp’s 2013 IRP.        

Click here for PacifiCorp’s 2013 IRP and supporting materials.



Congratulations to 2013 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest!

On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) honored businesses and organizations for their outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency at the 2013 ENERGY STAR Awards ceremony. SWEEP congratulates the seven award winners with operations in the Southwest region.

Five organizations in our region were honored with an ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence for their long-standing, effective efforts to promote and expand the market for energy-efficient homes:

  • Arizona Public Service (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Meritage Homes (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • Energy Inspectors (Las Vegas, NV)
  • EnergyLogic (Berthoud, CO)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver (Denver, CO)

In addition, FSL Home Energy Solutions (Phoenix, AZ) received an award for Excellence in ENERGY STAR Promotion, and Rocky Mountain Power (Salt Lake City, UT) received Special Recognition for energy efficiency program delivery.

The complete list of award winners, with details of their energy efficiency accomplishments, is available on the ENERGY STAR website.


Xcel Energy Achieves Record Energy Savings in 2012

Xcel Energy helped its customers realize 401 million kWh per year of energy savings from efficiency programs implemented in 2012, a 29% increase compared to savings from programs implemented in 2011, according to the company’s newly released Demand-Side Management Annual Status Report. Xcel’s 2012 results exceeded the savings goal set by the Colorado PUC by 22% and are equivalent to about 1.3% of retail electricity sales. Xcel estimates that its 2012 electric efficiency programs will save households and businesses $170 million net over the lifetime of the efficiency measures installed last year. Xcel Energy also implemented successful natural gas energy efficiency programs in 2012.  Xcel Energy serves about 1.4 million customers in Colorado.


PNM Expands Energy Savings in 2012

Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) helped its business and residential customers save 79 million kWh per year through energy efficiency programs implemented by the utility in 2012. The savings are equivalent to the electricity use of 10,500 households and represent a 38% increase over savings achieved in 2011. PNM also estimates that energy efficiency measures installed in 2012 will save households and businesses $36 million net over the lifetime of the measures. PNM is the largest electric utility in New Mexico serving about 505,000 customers.


SWEEP Releases Report on Strategic Energy Management Programs for Large Commercial and Industrial Customers

SWEEP has released a new report: Utility Strategic Energy Management ProgramsBased upon a review of three highly effective strategic energy management (SEM) programs currently offered in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., the report makes recommendations for utilities which are considering developing such programs in the Southwest and elsewhere.

SEM programs offer funding of energy management staff positions at large companies or public sector entities and/or training in developing systems for continuous improvement of energy management.  Three utilities or third-party energy efficiency program administrators in the Northwest—Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon, and Puget Sound Energy—have achieved documented energy savings from SEM programs of 15-25% of their total savings for all commercial and industrial efficiency programs. These three programs have also demonstrated that it is possible to measure savings from operations and maintenance improvements in a rigorous way, and that SEM programs can be very cost effective. SEM programs can deliver impressive results, and deserve serious consideration by utilities seeking ways to achieve more energy savings from industrial and other large customers.



Energy Efficiency Legislation Adopted in New Mexico

Two bills that SWEEP supported were adopted by the New Mexico legislature in the final days of the 2013 legislative session. SWEEP expects that both bills will be signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez.   

HB 267 advances electric utility energy efficiency efforts in New Mexico by establishing a fixed tariff rider (3% of utility revenues) for funding energy efficiency and load management programs. It also changes the main cost effectiveness test from the Total Resource Cost (TRC) to the Utility Cost (UC) test which will make it easier for most programs to pass cost effectiveness scrutiny. The bill was a compromise among energy efficiency advocates, New Mexico’s utilities, and the Public Regulation Commission and as such also reduces the energy savings requirement in 2020 for electric utilities from 10% to 8% of sales. SWEEP supported the bill believing that on balance it is a positive step forward for utility energy efficiency efforts in New Mexico.

SB 14 extends the state's sustainable buildings tax credits for five additional years, through 2018. The tax credits apply to LEED Silver or better commercial buildings, LEED Silver and Building Green New Mexico Silver or better new homes, and ENERGY STAR certified manufactured housing.


Energy Code Improvements Adopted in Utah

This March, the Utah Legislature adopted the first meaningful update to Utah’s home energy standards in seven years, cutting energy waste in new homes. House Bill 202, sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson, adopts the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) on a statewide basis, including the complete commercial energy code provisions and a modified version of the residential provisions of the 2012 IECC.

In addition to cutting energy costs in new homes by about 10% (compared to the current energy code), the higher standards are expected to pump about $18 million into the state’s economy over the next 10 years by adding to the value of new buildings and enabling home and building owners to spend utility cost savings elsewhere in the economy. 

The residential energy code modifications were based on a compromise developed by a coalition of energy efficiency advocates, home builders, building officials, engineers, and architects. The compromise results in meaningful energy savings while addressing concerns expressed by builders in recent years. Utah Clean Energy and SWEEP were the primary advocates for stronger energy codes and devoted considerable resources to securing passage of HB 202. Governor Gary R. Herbert is expected to sign the bill.


Utah Lawmakers Approve Commercial PACE Policy

Lawmakers recently approved Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation in Utah. Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Senator Kevin Van Tassell, allows cities and counties to provide a long-term, property-based method of financing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to commercial buildings. The bill allows interested cities and counties to sell bonds to raise capital for loans that would be offered to property owners. Interested property owners will participate on a voluntary basis by evaluating and investing in measures to achieve energy savings and receive 100% financing for the project. The loan is then repaid through a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.  

SB 221 passed with near unanimity and is supported by groups including the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Utah and the Vest Pocket Business Coalition. The Utah Bankers Association was involved throughout the process to make sure their interests were represented. Utah Clean Energy, SWEEP’s partner in Utah, played a major role in developing and securing passage of SB 221. Governor Gary R. Herbert is expected to sign the bill.


APS Reports Significantly Increased Energy Savings in 2012

Arizona Public Service (APS) reports that its 2012 energy efficiency programs achieved annual energy savings of 499 GWh per year, 25% greater than savings realized from programs implemented in 2011. The savings achieved in 2012 exceeded the utility’s goal as well as the Energy Efficiency Standard adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2010. Energy savings from efficiency programs and measures implemented in 2012 were equivalent to nearly 1.8% of APS’s retail energy sales, placing APS in the top tier of utilities nationwide with respect to this metric. In addition, APS estimates that its customers will realize $204 million in net economic benefits from efficiency programs implemented in 2012. SWEEP applauds APS for its very strong performance implementing energy efficiency programs last year.


SWEEP Issues Case Study on Fort Collins Utilities

Fort Collins Utilities, a municipally-owned utility serving about 66,200 customers in Fort Collins, CO, is a leader with respect to utility energy efficiency programs. SWEEP has published a new report, Energy Efficiency at Fort Collins Utilities: A Role model for Publicly-Owned Utilities, that describes what the utility has done and why, the impacts the programs are having, and other clean energy initiatives the utility and city are taking. It is estimated that households and businesses in Fort Collins will save around $57 million on their electric bills as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented during 2002-2011. Fort Collins Utilities has demonstrated that a small publicly-owned utility can implement highly effective efficiency programs that benefit its customers. SWEEP urges other publicly-owned utilities in Colorado and the region to replicate what Fort Collins Utilities has done.



SWEEP Report Finds That Electricity Will Be Colorado’s Cleanest Vehicle Fuel by 2020

Policies that are transitioning Colorado’s energy supply to renewables and natural gas will make electricity the cleanest fuel by far for automobiles by 2020. These findings come from a new report, Transportation Fuels for Colorado’s Future, that compares the “wells to wheels” energy use and air pollution of vehicles fueled by gasoline, compressed natural gas and electricity. The three different fuels were compared using average fuel-efficient new vehicles purchased in 2013 and the same vehicles operating in 2020 after state clean air and renewable energy policies begin to take effect. The report analyzed energy use and emissions from manufacture to disposal of the automobiles; extraction and processing of the vehicle fuels; and emissions related to driving. While gasoline, electric and CNG vehicles each perform best on certain metrics in 2013, the report shows that, as existing state policies improve the electric grid, the plug-in electric vehicle will quickly accelerate past gasoline and CNG as the cleanest car.

Because the performance of electric cars becomes so much better than gasoline or CNG cars over time, the report recommends that policymakers should focus on investments and policies to increase the penetration of electric vehicles into the light-duty vehicle fleet. Because methane emissions from natural gas wellheads in Colorado aren't well quantified -- the report used conservative estimates -- SWEEP recommends that policymakers better quantify methane emissions and adopt policies to reduce these emissions from natural gas extraction in Colorado.



Will Toor Joins SWEEP as Transportation Program Director

SWEEP is pleased to announce that Will Toor has recently joined the SWEEP team to lead our transportation-related work. Will recently stepped down after eight years as Boulder County Commissioner due to term limits. Prior to serving as a County Commissioner, Will served as Mayor of Boulder and Director of the Environmental Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Will has a great deal of experience working on transportation policy issues, including serving on the Board of the metropolitan planning agency in the Denver metro area (known as DRCOG) for 15 years. Will also served on the Colorado Governor's blue ribbon Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel; co-founded the US 36 Mayors' and Commissioners  Coalition which built a consensus for bus rapid transit between Boulder and Denver, now under construction; and has written two books and multiple book chapters on transportation policy.

SWEEP also thanks Bob Yuhnke for his dedication and excellent work leading SWEEP's transportation program for the past four years. Bob and his wife plan to retire to Hawaii in the near future.    


Colorado Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Readiness Plan Released

The Colorado Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Readiness Plan, which was developed over the last year by a broad consortium of stakeholders, provides a comprehensive resource for all parties interested in promoting the use of electric vehicles in Colorado.  Highlights of the Plan include an analysis of the market for electric vehicles, an assessment of current barriers to EVs and charging stations, and recommended strategies to overcome these barriers and increase growth in the Colorado EV market. 

SWEEP was a major contributor to the Plan, working on elements such as EV penetration rates, the statewide infrastructure plan, charging station costs, potential charging costs, best practices for local governments and developing the assumptions and methodologies underlying the report.