Regional News Briefs

2018 Archives


Denver’s Commercial Multifamily Buildings Save 4.5 Percent Energy in One Year

Denver’s large commercial and multifamily buildings saved 4.5 percent energy in just the first year of the city’s benchmarking and transparency program, far exceeding other cities’ first-year results. This equates to $13.5 million that tenants and owners saved on their energy bills.

The Energize Denver program, which requires large commercial and multifamily buildings to measure and then report on energy performance, is one of 25 similar city ordinances across the country. The city publishes the data on a map at to enable the market to better value energy efficiency, similar to the miles-per-gallon ratings for cars or nutrition labels for food and beverages.

The first-year results prove the program is effective at spurring energy and cost savings. These savings can be attributed to better awareness of energy use in general, as well as a better understanding of how a building’s energy performance compares to similar buildings. This, in turn, has led to an increase in energy efficiency upgrades, in many cases taking advantage of Xcel Energy’s incentives and rebates, or positive-cash-flow financing through Colorado’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program.

Most cities have seen an average of 2.3 percent savings in the first year. Denver’s outstanding results (as measured through the reduction in weather-normalized site energy use intensity) puts it on a good trajectory to meet or exceed its goal of reducing large commercial and multifamily energy use 10 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030. The first year’s data only included buildings over 50,000 square feet; the program’s second-year data will bring in buildings over 25,000 square feet as well.


Zero Energy Ready Homes to Take Pueblo by Storm with Plans for 4,850 Houses

An exciting new housing development, called the North Vista Highlands neighborhood, is underway in Pueblo, CO. Only the top one percent of builders nationwide construct houses that meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero-Energy Ready Home (DOE ZERH) level. ZERH provides a major boost in energy efficiency and prepares a house for the addition of renewable energy, such as solar panels. The program has rigorous requirements during construction and ensures superior levels of comfort, health, energy savings, and durability.  The development is open to new home builders who follow the DOE ZERH program requirements.

David Resnick, the visionary behind North Vista Highlands, has had a long, successful career as a land developer. The time is right, he believes, for this residential and retail/commercial development at the city’s north side. Construction is set to begin in 2019, with plans to eventually build 4,850 residential units on 1,060 acres and 1.2 million square feet of retail/commercial space.

By locating his development in Pueblo and using the DOE’s ZERH program, Resnick expects his mix of single family homes, townhomes, and patio homes to be directed toward the middle class, with a price ranging from about $200,000 to the mid-$300,000's. These prices, very attractive in Colorado's real estate market, position North Vista Highlands be Colorado’s Affordable Zero Energy Ready Community.

SWEEP encourages the proliferation of zero energy buildings through workshops and trainings for builders, community leaders, raters and industry professionals.


SWEEP Congratulates Will Toor on His Appointment to Colorado Governor-Elect Polis’s Cabinet

SWEEP transportation program director Will Toor has agreed to serve as head of the Colorado Energy Office in the administration of incoming Governor Jared Polis. Governor-elect Polis wants the Energy Office to lead efforts on reaching 100 percent renewables in electricity supply by 2040 and also placing nearly one million EVs on the road by 2030, two of his campaign goals. Will is also going to help shape the Governor’s broader climate agenda.

Will Toor led SWEEP’s transportation program for the past six years where he played a key role in the development and advocacy of numerous policies that are accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and reducing transportation sector energy use in the southwest region. SWEEP wishes Will success in his new capacity, and anticipates continuing to work with him closely on transportation as well as other energy priorities in Colorado. SWEEP will begin a search for a new transportation program director in early January.


SWEEP Hosts 15th Annual Southwest Energy Efficiency Workshop in Santa Fe, NM

Regional and national energy efficiency professionals gathered Nov. 29-30, 2018, in Santa Fe, NM for SWEEP’s 15th Annual Southwest Utility Energy Efficiency Workshop. The annual forum draws leading utility, regulatory, state, federal, non-profit and industry representatives to discuss the status of utility demand-side management (DSM) programs in the Southwest and learn about innovative DSM programs and technologies.

The 2018 workshop featured engaging panel discussions with representatives from eight electric and gas utilities that operate in the region, as well as a keynote presentation from Ron Darnell, Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Public Service Company of New Mexico. In addition, experts presented on recent developments in grid-connected appliances and buildings, home energy retrofit, lighting efficiency standards, heat pumps, upstream energy efficiency programs, and energy efficiency opportunities in water and wastewater treatment facilities.

At the workshop, SWEEP presented a Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award to Steve Bean, Manager for Energy Efficiency Design at Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM). Mr. Bean, who has led PNM’s energy efficiency and demand response programs for more than a decade, is retiring in the near future.


New Fort Collins Policy Helps Building Owners and Tenants View and Reduce Energy Use

The City of Fort Collins in northern Colorado became the 25th city nationally to adopt benchmarking and transparency policy for commercial and multifamily buildings. The new program, called Building Energy and Water Scoring, passed City Council this week with a 6-1 vote.

A benchmarking and transparency policy is one of the most effective actions a municipality can take to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings, by giving commercial and multifamily building owners, managers, and tenants more information about a building’s energy use and how it compares to similar buildings.

The ordinance is innovative and standard-setting in a couple key ways: first, it will apply to buildings 5,000 square feet and up whereas other cities only include much larger buildings; and second, it includes water benchmarking as well. As with many similar policies across the country, Fort Collins will phase in the benchmarking and transparency requirements over time; will use the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool; will offer training and education to assist with compliance; will help building owners that want to make energy efficiency improvements; and will eventually show ENERGY STAR scores on a public map.

Fort Collins’ new ordinance helps reinforce how not just larger cities but medium-sized cities as well can benefit from benchmarking and transparency policies that help businesses reduce energy costs. 


Nevada PUC Approves Changes to Energy Efficiency Regulations

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) has finalized changes to regulations in order to implement energy efficiency legislation adopted by the Nevada legislature in 2017. The new regulations include a goal of saving at least 1.1 percent of forecasted energy sales from electric utility energy efficiency programs starting in 2022. The goal starts in 2022 because the Commission has already approved electric utility demand-side management (DSM) program plans for 2019-21. The new regulations state that utilities shall submit DSM plans that are cost effective as a whole, rather than requiring all programs to be cost effective. The regulations also direct utilities to submit DSM plans that dedicate at least five percent of the total budget to programs for low-income customers.  



SWEEP Praises Colorado’s $10.33 Million Grant to Build 33 Fast-Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles

On Thursday, Nov. 29, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced a $10.33 million ALT Fuels Colorado grant through the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) to build a network of 33 electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations along the state’s major transportation corridors. The contract was awarded to Chargepoint, a company that currently operates the largest network of EV charging stations in the world.

In 2017, the governors of eight western states including Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona, signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West (“REV West Plan”). The agreement lay the foundation and established standards for a continuous network of EV fast-charging stations for long-distance travel across the American West.

A lack of EV charging infrastructure has been identified as a major barrier to EV adoption, but this network, which is expected to be fully-operational by early 2020, will help to calm some of the range anxiety that many prospective and current EV owners experience today. When combined with the eight Electrify America charging stations that are in development, the average distance between charging stations will be 50 to 70 miles. In addition, the new, direct-current, fast charging stations will deliver 150 kilowatts (KW) of charge to a single vehicle and would, for example, fully charge a 60 kWh Chevy Bolt battery in less than 30 minutes.

SWEEP has advocated for state investment in fast charging corridors for several years and the analysis SWEEP completed for Denver and RAQC helped set the stage for Colorado’s new fast-charging network. SWEEP also advised the state on the VW pollution settlement plan and advocated for the maximum 15 percent allocation for light-duty EV charging infrastructure.




Nevada Utility Commission Approves New DSM Plan for NV Energy

On October 31, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) approved a three-year Demand-Side Management (DSM) plan for NV Energy. The new DSM Plan calls for NV Energy to spend about $66 million per year on energy efficiency and demand response programs during 2019-21, about 30 percent more than the utility spent in recent years. The Plan includes new programs for low-income households as well as residential lighting and pool pumps.

The energy savings targets in the Plan are equal to about 348 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year, equivalent to saving approximately 1.17 percent of NV Energy’s retail electricity sales each year. This level of energy savings is 40 to 45 percent greater than what NV Energy achieved through its DSM programs during 2017-18. 

The new DSM Plan will result in greater economic benefits for households and businesses in Nevada, as well as reduced pollutant emissions and water consumption. SWEEP assisted NV Energy as it prepared the DSM Plan, participated in the proceeding where the plan was reviewed and approved by the PUCN, and helped to broker a stipulation agreement among the parties in this proceeding.


Southern AZ Communities Adopt New Energy-Saving Building Code

Tucson’s city council and Pima County’s board of supervisors both have adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code, which will help the communities’ residents and businesses save money on their air conditioning and heating bills for many decades into the future.

The Tucson council, which unanimously approved the new code on Oct. 9, also included the important Appendix T, which will make future installations of solar panels easier and less costly. When Pima County’s supervisors also unanimously adopted the code on October 16, they did not include Appendix T. The county does, however, plan to start public hearings about whether the county also should implement the solar-friendly provision.

SWEEP was instrumental in providing direction to the code development committee over a nine-month period, educating committee members on the details and benefits of, and reasons for, the changes in the 2018 IECC.

Tucson and Pima County now have joined Phoenix as the only three Arizona communities to adopt the 2018 IECC. Pima County, with a population of just over 1 million people, surrounds Tucson, which with more than 500,000 residents is Arizona’s second largest city. Together, they comprise the biggest urban area in southern Arizona, making this month’s votes especially significant.


SWEEP Gains Audience with Energy Efficiency Day 2018 Outreach

On Friday, Oct. 5, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) joined several other national and regional energy efficiency groups in celebrating Energy Efficiency Day 2018. SWEEP published two op-eds, helped place a third opinion piece, participated in a national social media push, issued two news releases, and earned additional media coverage including three TV stories in northern Nevada.


Salt River Project Surpasses FY 2018 Energy Efficiency Goal

Salt River Project (SRP) reported that its energy efficiency programs resulted in 2.14 percent savings (as a percentage of retail sales) in fiscal year 2018, surpassing its goal of 2.0 percent savings. The utility achieved total savings of 628.5 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year, 10 percent more than savings achieved the previous program year. The FY 2018 savings are equivalent to the amount of power consumed by about 35,000 typical homes. SRP serves about 1.0 million customers in Arizona.

  • Click here for a copy of SRP’s FY 2018 Energy Efficiency report.


GoEV Cities Campaign Kicks Off in Colorado and Other EV Event News

A coalition of conservation and consumer advocacy organizations is kicking off a new GoEV Cities campaign designed to help local governments support the transition to electric transportation.

The campaign is asking local governments to adopt the following GoEV City guiding principles and policy commitments:

  • City commits to transition its own fleet to zero-emissions vehicles.
  • City works with local transit agency to transition to zero-emissions buses.
  • City works to transition taxis, Uber/Lyft and similar services to zero-emissions vehicles.
  • City sets goals to transition all vehicles in the community to zero-emissions vehicles.

To achieve these goals, local governments can introduce a range of EV policies and programs that are designed to educate the public on the benefits of EVs and provide the crucial incentives and charging infrastructure necessary to support vehicle electrification. To support this effort, SWEEP has developed a GoEVCity Policy Toolkit -- a catalog of local policies, strategies, and programs that have been proven to advance the transition to EVs in Colorado communities.

In other news about communities promoting electric vehicles:

  • Denver, CO, will host an EV Ride and Drive on September 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,  on Bannock St. between Civic Center Park and the City and County Building. The city will offer free Civic Center Eats lunches to the first 100 test drives as an enticement.
  • In addition, several cities will participate in the Sept. 19 New American Road Trip, including Boulder, CO and Las Vegas, NV. The cities and partner organizations in their communities are offering a total of $10,000 in prize money for the best Instagram photos of how individuals or groups are reducing their carbon footprint.


News Story: SWEEP's Report Shows Public Transit Helps Mountain and Rural Communities

How does public transit help mountain and rural communities in the Southwest? Read the article in the Aspen Daily News about SWEEP's recent report that shows the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority  generates economic benefits of between $67 million and $88 million annually in Pitkin and Garfield Counties, Colorado. 


Public transit isn’t just for metro areas; it’s vital to Colorado’s rural reaches, too

In his op-ed that ran in today's Colorado Politics, Will Toor explains why rural Colorado needs public transit, too. Dr. Toor, who heads SWEEP's transportation program, also explained that public transit is vital for low-income people to be able to get to their jobs in communities as diverse as Aspen, Colorado Springs, Rifle, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction. Earlier this month, he published a report showing that the Roaring Fork Transporation Authority annually generates millions of dollars more in benefits than it costs to operate.


SWEEP Joins Vision for Colorado’s Energy and Conservation Future

On September 6, SWEEP and seven other clean energy and environment groups launched a Vision for Colorado’s Future. The Vision includes policy recommendations in the areas of fighting climate change, advancing energy innovation, transforming our transportation system, protecting public health and safety, and protecting rivers, public lands, and wilderness. The Vision presents the environmental community’s priorities for state leaders in 2019, a year when a new governor will take office in Colorado. SWEEP assisted in defining the clean energy and transportation priorities in the Vision. 


Eight Southwestern Transit Agencies Receive Grants for Electric Buses

On August 24, the United States Federal Transit Agency (FTA) announced its 2018 Low- and No-Emission bus grants. The FTA awarded a total of $84.4 million to 52 transit agencies nationwide; of this, seven agencies in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah will receive $9.2 million. The awards will go to electric buses and charging infrastructure for:

  • Eagle County Transportation Authority,
  • COBreckenridge, CO’s “Electric Breck” plan
  • Summit County, CO
  • Estes Park, CO
  • Tahoe Transportation District, NV
  • Atomic City Transit, Los Alamos, NM
  • Park City Transit, Park City, UT
  • START, Jackson, WY

SWEEP applauds these agencies for starting the transition to electric buses, which reduce energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce transit agency operating costs. SWEEP has advocated for transit electrification across the Southwest, including pushing for states to invest VW settlement funds in electric buses, and advocating for utility investment in charging infrastructure for buses.


SWEEP Presents Two Papers at 2018 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings

SWEEP staff and consultants presented two papers at the ACEEE Summer Study held Aug. 12-17, 2018 in Pacific Grove, CA. Howard Geller, SWEEP's executive director, authored one paper titled "Maintaining Strong Utility Energy Efficiency Programs Beyond 2018: Challenges and Prospects in the Southwest." Dr. Geller's research reviews the status of utility energy efficiency policies and programs in the Southwest, the prospects for continuing these policies, and the major challenges that utility energy efficiency efforts confront today. The paper also discusses the innovative strategies that utilities in the region are implementing to maintain high levels of energy savings. 

The second paper, authored by Edward Burgess, Jeff Schlegel, and Ellen Zuckerman, is titled "Is the 'Duck Curve' Eroding the Value of Energy Efficiency?" It explores the impacts of growing penetrations of solar resources as well as future projections of wholesale market prices on the value of energy efficiency in Arizona. It finds that while some energy efficiency measures are likely to become less cost-effective, there is still significant value in a diversified energy efficiency portfolio. It concludes that there is no compelling evidence for major overhauls in efficiency portfolios based on current or near-future levels of solar energy.


Colorado Moves Ahead on the Adoption of California’s Clean Car Standards

On August 16, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted to move ahead with an important debate about new pollution standards for cars and trucks, a discussion that ultimately could improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The vote established the scope of the proposed rulemaking for the adoption of California’s low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards.

The LEV standards require automakers to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, reaching an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, which is almost twice what it is today. Earlier this summer, Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order directing Colorado to join 13 other states in the adoption of California’s LEV standards. This move will help preserve the economic and environmental benefits of clean car standards in Colorado, in light of the Trump Administration’s proposed rollback of the federal standards.

The AQCC hearing was standing-room only, and of the 50+ public comments, the vast majority argued for the commission to consider both the California LEV standards and the Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards, which is a separate mandate that requires automakers to ramp up electric vehicle (EV) sales in Colorado each year. After more than three hours of public comment, the commission decided to move forward with the LEV rulemaking for a November 2018 vote, and to establish a separate rulemaking for ZEV standards to be presented in December 2018 and considered in March 2019.

Wyoming Utility Commission Approves New DSM Plan for Rocky Mountain Power

On July 24th, the Wyoming Public Service Commission approved the 2018-20 Wyoming demand-side management (DSM) program plan for Rocky Mountain Power (RMP). The new DSM plan took effect on July 1. According to the new DSM plan, RMP will spend nearly $12 million per year on a wide range of energy efficiency programs and measures during 2018-2020, with an average energy savings target of 56 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year. This is equivalent to saving about 0.6 percent of total electricity sales per year through the DSM programs.

During 2015-17, RMP spent $8 million per year on DSM programs and achieved energy savings of about 40 GWh per year on average in Wyoming. Thus, the new DSM plan calls for a significant step up in funding and energy savings. Rocky Mountain Power, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, is the main investor-owned utility operating in Wyoming where it serves around 140,000 customers.

SWEEP Endorses Sales Tax Increase for Colorado’s Transportation Needs

In his latest blog, SWEEP Transportation Director Will Toor explains why we endorsed one of two ballot measures that likely will appear on the Colorado ballot in November. 

"Coloradans can help untangle their transportation woes by supporting a ballot measure, currently called Initiative 153, but they shouldn’t be fooled by a go-nowhere alternative that does nothing to solve the complex problem. SWEEP endorses one measure that appears to have made the ballot. On August 6, organizers from Let’s Go Colorado delivered 198,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State for Initiative 153, which will let voters decide whether to raise the sales tax rate by 0.62 percent for 20 years, in order to invest about $750 million per year in transportation infrastructure," he writes.


SWEEP and Three Other Clean Energy Advocacy Groups Announce Opposition to Electricity Choice Ballot Initiative in Nevada

SWEEP, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, and Western Resource Advocates, today announced their opposition to Question 3 that will appear on Nevada’s ballot this coming November. Question 3 would deregulate the state’s electricity market and could disrupt the state’s progress towards a clean energy future.

SWEEP is particularly concerned about the impact that Question 3 could have on beneficial utility energy efficiency programs. Over the past decade, NV Energy spent nearly $500 million helping its customers save energy and reduce peak-power demand. Electricity use was 9 percent lower as of 2017 and NV Energy’s customers are expected to save nearly $700 million as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented over the past decade. These cost-effective energy efficiency programs would face an uncertain future if Question 3 passes. Therefore, SWEEP urges Nevadans to vote No on Question 3.


Check Out New Easy-to-Read Fact Sheet on Heat Pumps in the Southwest

Do heat pumps save consumers money? Do they save energy? And do they reduce greenhouse gas emissions? SWEEP put together an easy-to-understand fact sheet to answer these important questions for consumers, utilities, home builders, and state policy makers. The fact sheet supplements the earlier, longer report SWEEP issued regarding heat pump use and benefits in the Southwest.


Denver Adopts Bold Goals for Transportation Electrification and Buildings Efficiency

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released the Denver 80x50 Climate Action Plan today. The plan sets bold goals for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and transportation. The transportation goals include 40 percent of all cars in the city being electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 and 100 percent of cars, buses, taxis and rideshare vehicles electric by 2050. The plan also calls for the city to adopt EV-friendly building codes, provide EV charging at all city buildings, and commits the city to advocate for state policy changes including adoption of clean-car and zero-emission vehicle standards, as well as for expanded opportunities for utilities to support electric vehicle adoption.

On the buildings side, the plan calls for adopting the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) plus a more ambitious voluntary code, and aims to have new buildings be net-zero energy by 2035. (Net-zero buildings are ultra-energy-efficient and produce the rest of their average yearly energy with solar.) The city also will set minimum energy standards for rental properties, look into home energy ratings at the time of sale, and move towards reductions in thermal heating emissions.

For larger commercial and multifamily buildings, Denver will continue the benchmarking ordinance (which enables potential tenants to compare energy use of different buildings on a public map), and add a future program requiring low-performing buildings to make periodic cost-effective, incremental energy-efficiency improvements. It will also build up a green lease program, and provide incentives for high-performing, LEED, and net-zero buildings. 

SWEEP served on the 80x50 taskforce and supported strong energy efficiency and transportation electrification goals.



Utah Issues Its VW Settlement Plan

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has released the state Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for allocating $35 million in funds that Utah will receive from the VW emissions cheating settlement. The plan will help advance electric vehicles (EVs) in Utah in two ways. First, it allocates 11 percent, or just under $4 million, to light-duty vehicle charging stations. This complements $10 million in utility funds and $4 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants,to advance EV charging in workplaces, public charging, multifamily housing, and fast charging along highway corridors. Second, most of the funding will go toward replacing older diesel trucks and buses. The plan allows these to be replaced with new diesel, electric, or CNG vehicles, but also says that extra incentives will be given to encourage replacement with electric trucks or buses.

SWEEP partnered with Utah Clean Energy to advocate for a strong focus on electrification in the plan. While we would have liked to see more funding for EV charging and dedicated funding for electric buses, overall we believe that DEQ did a reasonable job crafting a plan that will accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in Utah.


Check Out Howard Geller's New Blog on Southwest Utility Programs

Howard Geller, SWEEP's executive Director, says that utility energy efficiency programs in the Southwest have taken two steps forward but potentially could take one step back. "Electric utilities in the Southwest expanded their energy efficiency programs over the past decade, except for a few bumps in the road," he wrote. "Recent developments in the region bode well for future energy efficiency efforts, at least for the main utilities in Colorado and Nevada, Xcel Energy and NV Energy. On the other hand, there could be a significant reversal with respect to the energy efficiency programs run by APS."

SWEEP strongly opposes APS’s DSM cuts, arguing that the programs continue to provide value to the utility system most of the time, and that APS has failed to demonstrate that the programs are no longer cost effective, he added.

Arizona Utilities’ Energy Savings Programs Cost the Companies Half the National Average, Says New National Study

Arizona’s utilities achieved energy efficiency savings at about half the national average cost, says a new federal report. Electric utilities in Arizona implemented energy efficiency programs at a utility cost of only 1.3 cents per kWh saved, according to a new study issued on June 20, 2018 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The LBNL study examined utility energy efficiency programs implemented in 41 states during 2009-15. Considering all 41 states, the average utility cost was 2.5 cents per kWh saved.

The energy efficiency programs of Arizona’s utilities were the second lowest in terms of cost of energy savings, behind only the utilities in Wisconsin, which had a cost of 1.0 cents per kWh saved. The LBNL study also shows that the utility programs in Arizona achieved above-average energy savings, while keeping costs very low.

“This objective national study demonstrates that Arizona’s electric utilities have implemented highly cost-effective energy efficiency programs,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).  “Considering the cost to the utilities and their customers, these programs compare very favorably with those implemented by utilities in other states.”

The LBNL study, titled “The Cost of Saving Electricity Through Energy Efficiency Programs Funded by Utility Customers: 2009-2015,” was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


CO to Adopt Clean Car Standards, Aims to Curb Climate Change Pollution and Save Consumers Money

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released an Executive Order on June 19th directing state agencies to initiate a rulemaking at the state Air Quality Control Commission, an action that would have Colorado join California and 12 other states in adopting clean car standards. This comes as the Trump Administration has proposed to weaken existing federal standards. Analysis conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund found that adoption of these standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado by over 2 million tons per year by 2030 and 4 million tons per year by 2040, while saving consumers an average of $3,000 per vehicle in reduced fuel costs.

Multiple stakeholders have sent letters urging the state to adopt such standards, including the Regional Air Quality Council, county public health departments, and local elected officials from across the state.

SWEEP, which also has urged the state to adopt clean car standards to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, congratulates Governor Hickenlooper on this step forward. SWEEP also urges other governors across the country to adopt clean car standards to ensure that their residents will benefit from fuel cost savings and cleaner air even if the Trump administration weakens federal standards.


NV Energy Seeks to Expand Energy Savings

NV Energy has filed a new three-year demand-side management (DSM) plan in conjunction with a new Integrated Resource Plan. The new DSM plan calls for the utility to spend $197 million on electric DSM programs during 2019-21, approximately 30 percent more than the utility spent during 2015-17.

The plan is designed to save approximately 344 million kilowatt-hours from energy efficiency programs implemented annually during 2019-21. The annual energy savings targets are equivalent to 1.15 percent of NV Energy’s retail electricity sales. This is significant bump up from savings levels achieved by the utility in recent years.

The DSM plan is very cost effective with a projected benefit-cost ratio of 2.15 under the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test. NV Energy estimates that implementing the three-year DSM plan will result in $296 million in net economic benefits for its customers. In addition, the new DSM plan is projected to save 464 million gallons of water and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.3 million tons over the lifetime of the energy efficiency measures installed during 2019-2021. 

The new DSM plan includes restarting residential lighting and pool pump efficiency programs, cost-effective programs previously eliminated by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN). The plan also includes a new energy efficiency program targeted to low-income households, as well as expansion of business efficiency programs.

Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), welcomed the plan's emphasis on energy efficiency. "This plan includes a significant expansion of energy efficiency programs. And while we can always do more to save electricity, this plan charts a course toward lower energy use and greater cost savings for families and businesses," Geller said.

SWEEP assisted NV Energy as it prepared the new DSM plan, and will participate in the PUCN proceeding in which the plan will be reviewed and approved. NV Energy is the sole investor-owned electric utility serving nearly 1.3 million customers in Nevada.


Energy Savings Goals Increased for Xcel Energy – Colorado

On June 6, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued its written decision concerning future energy savings goals and other policies governing Xcel Energy’s demand-side management (DSM) programs in Colorado. The PUC approved an energy savings goal of 500 GWh per year for Xcel Energy during 2019-23, equal to saving about 1.6 percent of Xcel’s projected electricity sales each year during this period. The new energy savings goal is 25 percent higher than the goal in effect during 2015-18.

In addition, the PUC has strengthened the performance incentive mechanism that rewards Xcel Energy for meeting or exceeding the energy savings goals, supported geo-targeted DSM efforts on constrained distribution system feeders, and increased the non-energy benefits adders used in DSM program cost effectiveness analysis. These new policies were issued as part of what is known as a DSM Strategic Issues proceeding.

An appeal process is allowed following the issuance of the written decision. The performance incentive mechanism is expected to be the main issue questioned during appeal. The higher energy savings goal, which was originally proposed by SWEEP, is not likely to be challenged or modified. Once the proceeding is closed, Xcel Energy will submit its 2019-20 DSM plan for PUC approval.

Xcel Energy is the largest electric utility in Colorado serving over 1.4 million customers. 


Arizona's Plan for Using VW Settlement Funds Disappointing

On June 8, the Arizona Department of Administration released the state plan for spending approximately $56.5 million in funds from the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. Under the settlement rules, Arizona could have chosen to allocate about $8 million to electric vehicle charging, and could invest funds in zero emission electric school buses. Unfortunately, instead the plan invests all of the funds in simply buying new diesel vehicles, which do not move the state towards zero emissions, do not help the state comply with its obligations to electrify highway corridors under the REV West MOU, and provide no long-term reductions in emissions.

This plan was developed with no public meetings, and no opportunities for feedback or review of plan drafts.

SWEEP calls on Governor Ducey to modify the state plan to allow a true public review process and support zero emission vehicles.


Rocky Mountain Power Achieved Greater Energy Savings in 2018

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) reports that its 2017 energy efficiency programs helped its Utah customers save 344 million kWh per year, equivalent to the electricity use of about 39,000 typical households in the state. The energy savings were 11 percent greater than the savings achieved through the utility’s programs in 2016. Savings increased for both residential and commercial sector energy efficiency programs. In addition, the company’s 2017 load management programs enabled RMP to reduce peak demand by 121 MW. RMP estimates that its 2017 programs had a benefit-cost ratio of 2.18 and will result in over $150 million in net economic benefits for the households and businesses it serves.

RMP, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, provides electricity to about 875,000 customers in Utah.


Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

Check out Howard Geller's new blog about how energy efficiency employs more workers  in the Southwest than even fossil fuels production does. As of 2017, there were 127,750 jobs focused on improving energy efficiency in the Southwest region (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) according to the newly released 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Moreover, energy efficiency remains the top sector for energy jobs in the Southwest, ahead of oil and natural gas production, electric power generation, and other energy supply sectors covered in the report. 



SWEEP Explains Why Car Makers Don't Offer More Electric Vehicles in CO and What to Do About It

Subaru plans to offer its first plug-in hybrid powertrain on its Crosstrek -- but won't sell the cars in Colorado. In today's edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette, SWEEP's Will Toor explains what Colorado must do to encourage Subaru and other car makers to offer electric vehicles in our state.

"Despite the fact that Colorado has some of the strongest consumer demand for electric vehicles, most car manufacturers don't sell all their electric models here," Toor said. "States that have adopted zero emission standard get up to three times as many models. The new plug-in hybrid Subaru Crosstrek is a great example. What could suit the Colorado lifestyle more than an all-wheel-drive electric vehicle? But Subaru is only planning to release it in the ZEV states. Colorado needs to take action to increase model availability."


SWEEP Explains Why NV’s New EV Charging Rules Help Consumers and Clean Air

Check out today’s news story from the Nevada Independent regarding the decision by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada’s decision to let NV Energy play a central role in building electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. SWEEP’s Will Toor called the EV charging stations a public good and noted that electric vehicles lower greenhouse emissions and could even reduce rates over time by helping the utility better balance demand for power with its supply.


Colorado Lawmakers Should Nurture the Electric Vehicle Market, Not Punish It

Check out the latest op-ed by SWEEP's Will Toor about why electric vehicles benefit all Coloradans, not just people who drive them. "Widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will bring tremendous benefits to Colorado.  They help our air quality, are good for consumers, and are good for the economy as a whole. If we want to achieve all the benefits that EVs bring, we need to get a lot more on the road."



Colorado Takes Major Step Forward on Implementing State Electric Vehicle Plan

On April 10, the Colorado Energy Office released a request for applications, inviting private-sector partners to build fast-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) along most major highway corridors in Colorado, including: I-25, I-70, U.S. 36, U.S. 40, U.S. 50, U.S. 160, U.S. 285, and U.S. 550.

The state is investing approximately $10 million in this program, using federal transportation funds and money from the settlement of the VW emissions testing scandal. The plan will add 33, direct-current, fast-charging locations, with 50 to 70 miles between stations. Each fast-charger will be capable of delivering 150 kilowatts to a single vehicle, recharging the battery to full capacity in approximately 20 minutes. 

The Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan, which sets a goal of nearly a million EVs on the road by 2030, identified a need for fast charging along corridors to give consumers confidence that they can get where they need to go with an electric vehicle. The plan also meets the state's commitment to "electrify" interstate highways as part of the eight-state REV West Memorandum of Understanding.

SWEEP advocated for investing VW funds and federal transportation funds on EV charging, and conducted a study on the business case for fast charging that informed the process. SWEEP congratulates the state of Colorado for this ambitious step forward on transportation electrification.


SWEEP Congratulates 2018 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest

In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) recognized 163 ENERGY STAR partner organizations for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency. SWEEP congratulates the nine award winners with operations based in the Southwest region.

Six organizations in our region were honored in the category of "Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence" in three award categories for their exceptional leadership year after year in the ENERGY STAR program while remaining dedicated to environmental protection through energy efficiency:

  • Energy Inspectors Corporation (Las Vegas, NV—Home Energy Rater)
  • EnergyLogic, Inc. (Berthoud, CO—Home Energy Rater)
  • Fulton Homes (Tempe, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver (Denver, CO—New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Meritage Homes Corporation (Scottsdale, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (Tempe, AZ—Energy Efficiency Program Delivery).

Two organizations were honored as "Partner of the Year:”

  • Ideal Energy (Phoenix, AZ—Home Performance with ENERGY STAR)
  • Mandalay Homes (Prescott, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)

In addition, AZ Energy Efficient Home (Phoenix, AZ) was awarded Contractor of the Year with Sustained Excellence, an honor given to Home Performance with ENERGY STAR participating contractors who exhibit outstanding professionalism, build strong customer relationships, and apply building science solutions to improve homes.

Since it started in 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped save American families and businesses more than $450 billion and over 3.5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity while also achieving broad emissions reductions—all through voluntary action.  ENERGY STAR successfully promoted energy efficiency in appliances, home building, and 31 business sectors from local bakeries to steel mills—including 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. Some 90 percent of Americans recognize its blue-and-white logo, making it one of the most recognizable symbols in U.S. marketing today--a sign that encouraged consumers to buy $100 million in energy-efficient products in 2016 alone.


Xcel Energy Achieves Record Energy Savings in 2017

Xcel Energy reports it achieved 415 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year of electricity savings and 97 megawatts (MW) of peak load reduction at the generator level from demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in Colorado in 2017. These were the highest levels of annual energy savings and peak load reduction since Xcel Energy began implementing comprehensive programs to help its customers save energy and reduce peak load in 2009. The electricity savings were equal to 1.3 percent of the utility’s retail electricity sales on a net savings basis, surpassing the savings goal established by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Xcel Energy also estimates that its 2017 electric DSM programs will provide $102 million in net economic benefits over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures installed last year. In addition, Xcel Energy projects that its DSM programs will cut the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 4.6 million tons over the lifetime of the energy savings measures installed in 2017.

Xcel Energy is the largest electric and gas utility in Colorado serving over 1.4 million customers.



News Media Explain CO EV Plan, Quote SWEEP

What did the Denver Business Journal say about Colorado's finalized plan to boost electric vehicles and create a network of charging stations along major highways? And what did SWEEP's Will Toor tell the Journal?


Three Great News Stories About Southwest Energy Efficiency: Money, EVs and NM Plan

SWEEP today can report three great news stories about energy efficiency in our region.

First, the new federal budget that Congress passed, and President Trump signed, spared key U.S. Department of Energy efficiency programs from the ax. SWEEP provides more information and budget numbers. 

Second, Colorado finalized its bold plans for using money from the VW emissions cheating settlement fund to encourage electric vehicle adoption, including the development of electric charging stations along the state's major highways.

Third, New Mexico has begun implementation of its Energy Roadmap, which includes energy efficiency.


Implementation of New Mexico’s Energy Roadmap Underway

Stakeholders in energy efficiency, clean energy, and related areas have begun discussing the first steps in implementing New Mexico’s Energy Roadmap goals and strategies. The Energy Roadmap, completed in December, is a statewide energy project that is intended to strengthen and diversify a New Mexico energy economy that is resilient to global changes.

Energy stakeholders, representing a broad range of more than 50 public and private entities, met last year and developed the Energy Roadmap with 15 goals aimed at improving energy diversification and efficiency. Those goals include overall improvements to energy efficiency in New Mexico, installation of electric vehicle charging stations along major corridors throughout the state, and improving education and job training to better prepare New Mexicans seeking jobs in the energy sector.

Key energy efficiency strategies in the roadmap include:

  • updating the state’s energy conservation building codes,
  • updating the Efficient Use of Energy Act,
  • improving the efficiency of state buildings,
  • increasing the use of public-private partnerships to spur energy efficiency investments,
  • and undertaking a statewide public awareness campaign about the benefits of energy efficiency.

The Energy Roadmap was funded through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, including funds for aggressively implementing key, time-critical goals and strategies aimed at practices, policies, or laws that are either expiring or are woefully obsolete.


SWEEP Welcomes Two New Staffers

SWEEP is pleased to announce that two new staff members have joined SWEEP’s Utility and Transportation Programs.

Justin Brant is a new Senior Associate in SWEEP’s Utility Program, where his duties include research on utility energy efficiency policy and programs, participating in public utility commission proceedings, and collaborating with utilities, business and consumer groups, and other stakeholders. Before joining SWEEP, he worked at The Cadmus Group, a nationwide energy and environmental consulting firm. Earlier, he was Assistant Director of the Electric Power Division at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

Matt Frommer is a new Senior Associate in SWEEP’s Transportation Program, where he focuses on electric vehicle policy and EV-grid integration. Matt received a Master of Environmental Science in Sustainable Planning and Management from the University of Colorado in 2017, where he also completed a capstone project with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Mobility Transportation team. Earlier, he worked as an architect and city planner, specializing in urban mixed-used and residential projects both in the United States and internationally. 


Trade Press Reports on ACC's Decision Re: IRPs of Investor-Owned Utilities

What did leading industry news media say about the Arizona Corporations Commission’s decision re: TEP, APS & UNSE integrated resource plans?


Settlement Agreement Reached in Xcel Energy DSM Strategic Issues Docket

On February 26th, a Comprehensive Settlement Agreement was submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by most of the parties participating in the Demand-Side Management (DSM) Strategic Issues docket concerning Xcel Energy. This docket establishes energy savings and peak demand reduction goals, financial incentives for the utility, and other key policies affecting Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency and demand response programs. The Settlement Agreement recommends continuing the current energy savings goal of 400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year for an additional five years (2019-2023). The Settlement Agreement also proposes new performance-based financial incentives that would reward Xcel Energy for exceeding the energy savings goal and penalize the utility if it fails to reach the goal.

SWEEP played a prominent role in negotiating the Settlement Agreement with Xcel Energy, the Staff of the Colorado PUC, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders. While representing a compromise on some issues, SWEEP fully supports the Agreement and urges the Colorado PUC to approve it. In particular, the Settlement Agreement contains higher energy savings goals than those initially proposed by Xcel Energy, Staff of the PUC and the Office of Consumer Counsel. The PUC will review the Settlement Agreement and make its decision in the docket in the next few months.

Xcel Energy is the main electric and gas utility in Colorado serving about 1.4 million customers. In a recent ACEEE Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Xcel Energy Colorado was tied for 10th place in the ranking of energy efficiency policies and programs for the 51 largest electric utilities in the nation.


Electric Transportation Forum

Check out the KTVN-Channel 2 news story about SWEEP's recent NV electric forum, including a snowstorm interview with SWEEP's Will Toor and a calmer but still outdoor discussion with state Sen. Patricia Spearman, who sponsored important energy efficiency legislation last year. The one-minute newscast also describes the value of the eight-state (including NV) agreement to create charging stations along 7,000 miles of interstate highways.



SWEEP Study Shows How Boulder County, CO, Can Encourage Electric Car Use

SWEEP has just published a new study done for Boulder County, “Electrifying Transportation: Boulder County’s Clean Future.”  The report focuses on how the County can advance electric vehicle adoption in the county fleet, by employees, and by County residents.

SWEEP’s study identified top County government locations where charging stations should be installed to support adoption of EVs by both its fleet and its employees, and analyzed the costs and benefits of charging infrastructure and electric vehicles.  It also outlined a number of actions the County could take to accelerate EV adoption in the general population.


Nevada PUC Proposes Rules for Utility EV Plans

On January 22, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) issued proposed regulations on the implementation of Nevada Senate Bill 145, which in part required NV Energy to develop a plan to support transportation electrification.

Highlights from the regulations include:

  • Allocating $15 million towards incentives for electric vehicle charging stations;
  • Requiring NV Energy to prioritize fast charging along highways, as well as the conversion of buses and other heavy-duty vehicles to electric vehicles;
  • Allowing NV Energy to own and operate fast-charging stations along highways, with the potential to own and operate stations in other areas (such as apartments) where there is a demonstrated need.

SWEEP submitted joint comments with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Western Resources Advocates during the development of the regulations, and looks forward to working with the PUCN and NV Energy on the development of an EV Plan. SWEEP also supported passage of SB 145.

Read NV SB 145 here.


Colorado Details Bold Goals for Encouraging Electric Vehicle Purchases and Use

Colorado released details on its bold goals for encouraging electric vehicle purchases and use in the state, as part of a broader effort to reduce air pollution including greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement came after months of gathering public comments and ideas.

On January 24, 2018, in Denver, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released the final version, and details, about the state’s first Electric Vehicle (EV) Plan. The plan lays out ambitious goals around EV adoption and charging station deployment, and articulates strategies to meet each goal.

Perhaps the most important goal in the plan is to go from about 13,000 EVs in Colorado at the end of 2017 to 940,000 by 2030. This shift would save Colorado consumers over $500 million per year in fuel costs. It also would also drive down electricity rates, saving utility customers an estimated $50 million per year.

Other goals outlined in the plan include:

  • Coordinate efforts with other Mountain West states to make regional travel with an EV convenient;
  • Develop partnerships with electric utilities to support deployment and greater utilization of fast chargers;
  • Go from 36 electric transit vehicles in 2017 to 500 by 2030; and
  • More than triple the number of EVs in the state fleet by 2020.

SWEEP provided input during the development of the plan, and looks forward to working with the state on the policies, programs and investments that will be needed to achieve these goals.


Great Op-ed - Why Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Could Hurt Thousands of CO Energy Jobs

Colorado Politics/ Colorado Statesman today published a great op-ed from our partner group, the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition: 

Proposed federal budget cuts endanger thousands of well-paying clean energy jobs in Colorado. Colorado’s diverse energy sector includes more than 30,000 jobs involving energy efficiency, more than any other part of the energy sector (more than solar and wind, oil, natural gas, or coal), according to a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Yet the Trump administration and the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed devastating cuts (more than 40 percent in the House budget, 75 percent cuts in the administration’s budget) to these energy efficiency programs that benefit Colorado in the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

SWEEP helped in researching and placing the opinion piece.


Two Great News Stories on Electric Cars Feature SWEEP

Two recent, in-depth stories about growing interest in clean, electric vehicles featured SWEEP's transportation experts. Find out more: