Regional News Briefs
IMT Launches Energy Code Compliance Study in Arizona and Utah
Across the Unites States, high utility bills are costing homeowners a significant portion of their monthly incomes. According to the most recent EIA Residential Energy Consumption Survey, about one in five households reported reducing or forgoing basic necessities like food and medicine to pay an energy bill. Stronger energy codes and more widespread code compliance can help change the tide on this type of energy poverty. Improving compliance with residential energy codes opens up an array of economic and health benefits for homeowners, residents, local governments, and building officials.
This article is co-authored by Jim Meyers, Building Program Director with SWEEP.
Click here to read the full article
Energy Efficiency Business Roundtable Oct. 2, 2019
A roundtable discussion on what’s happening in energy efficiency in Nevada will be held Wednesday, October 2, 2019, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the UNR Innevation Center---Powered by Switch, 450 Sinclair St., Reno.
A featured component of the discussion are the new opportunities for businesses to save energy and money through cost-effective upgrades to their lighting, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and other energy using systems. There are now ‘third-party” financing programs that enable businesses to make such upgrades without the businesses having to fund the retrofit project as a capital expenditure. The 3rd party financiers are paid back from the energy savings; when the retrofit project is paid off, the building owner or operator has much lower utility bills.
Presenters at the 10/2 afternoon meeting include: Lina Tanner, representing Energy Optimization Services; Cameron Dyer, staff attorney of Western Resource Advocates; and Suzanne Linfinte, Energy Adviser in the City of Reno’s “ReEnergize Reno” program. The roundtable discussion will be facilitated by Tom Polikalas of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).
The meeting is free and open to the public. An RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or registration at Eventbrite is appreciated. For more information, please call Tom Polikalas at (775) 386-7411.
Xcel Energy Proposes Electric Vehicle Charging Pilot In Colorado
On Friday, Xcel Energy filed a request for the approval of a $9 million investment in electric vehicle (EV) make-ready infrastructure projects to be completed in 2020-21. This proposal follows the passage Senate Bill 19-077, which allows Colorado’s regulated utilities to recover the cost of EV charging infrastructure investments and requires them to submit Transportation Electrification Plans (TEPs) before May 15, 2020.
Of the proposed $9 million investment, $3.6 million has been reserved for transportation electrification projects with the City and County of Denver, the City of Lone Tree, the State of Colorado, and Regional Transportation District (RTD). These four projects include:
$1.3 million for the City of Denver to add 200 electric vehicles to the city fleet;
$1 million to build EV charging stations at major transportation hubs like the Denver Airport for electric shared mobility services like Uber and Lyft;
$1.2 million for RTD to add 17 electric buses to their fleet by the end of 2020; and
$80,000 for the City of Lone Tree to electrify one shuttle and five light-duty vehicles.
This pilot project is designed to test a variety of non-residential transportation electrification applications and the results will inform the development of the larger TEP. According to the filing, Xcel is actively seeking additional partnership opportunities and has reserved the remaining $5.4 million to invest in projects that may come forth before the TEP filing in Spring of 2020. The utility did not specify what these future projects might include, but in addition to the first wave of project types, future investments might include EV infrastructure for workplace charging, corporate fleets, medium- and heavy-duty freight, electric school buses, and more.
For more information, contact Xcel Energy’s Electric Vehicle Program Lead, Kevin Schwain, at email@example.com.
SWEEP Joins More Than 20 Organizations to Propose Extended Efficiency Standard, New Clean Energy Rules For Arizona
Earlier this week, SWEEP joined a coalition of 25 organizations to propose a comprehensive clean energy plan for adoption by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The proposed rules require:
100% clean energy by 2045;
50% renewable energy by 2030;
10% distributed generation by 2030;
35% cumulative energy savings by 2030;
A more comprehensive and effective integrated resource planning process; and
Support for a just transition for communities impacted by power plant closure.
The two dozen signatories represent consumer, faith, business, environmental, public health, and tribal community interests who worked collaboratively over the last several months to draft the proposal.
On energy efficiency, the Joint Stakeholder proposal includes an enforceable standard for 35% cumulative energy savings by 2030. It also includes updates to the Commission’s existing Efficiency Standard to reduce regulatory barriers to energy efficiency program deployment and comprehensiveness, including on cost-effectiveness.
The proposal was filed in the Arizona Corporation Commission’s clean energy rule-making proceeding. This week the Arizona Corporation Commission held a two-day workshop to review its clean energy rules and deliberate on the future of renewable energy, energy efficiency, retail competition, and integrated resource planning. Additional workshops will take place next month, at which SWEEP and the joint stakeholders will present their proposal.
Click here to read the joint stakeholder proposal
Click here to read the press release about the proposal
Southwestern States Win Federal Grants For Deploying Electric Buses And Charging Infrastructure
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration recently announced the selection of projects being awarded federal funds under the Low or No Emission Grants Program. The FTA received 155 proposals from 38 states and the District of Columbia that requested a total of $498 million. Ultimately, the FTA chose to fund 38 projects totaling $85 million from that large pool of applicants, and Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah all received sizeable grants to boost their fleets of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.
SWEEP submitted letters of support for the proposals in our region. SWEEP congratulates all of the recipients.
Arizona Corporation Commission Approves TEP’s Energy Efficiency Implementation Plan Through 2020
On July 10th, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted unanimously to approve Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) Energy Efficiency Plan through the end of 2020. With this vote TEP will maintain a budget of more than $22 million for its efficiency programs. According to TEP, these programs have historically delivered more than $5 in benefits for every $1 invested. SWEEP testified at the Commission’s Open Meeting on July 10, 2019, in support of the plan’s approval.
Click here for the ACC Staff’s recommended opinion and order which was approved without amendment.
Arizona Corporation Commission Approves New Policy for Electric Vehicle Investments and Programs
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted to approve an Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy Implementation Plan. The plan provides next steps for regulated utilities to design and propose EV pilot programs and to support a stakeholder engagement process to develop a long-term transportation electrification plan for the state. This vote allows Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Tucson Electric Power (TEP), and other regulated utilities to propose EV pilot programs by September 2019, with an emphasis on programs that benefit low-income Arizonans. These pilot programs will provide important information on customer EV charging habits and will set the stage for greater EV charging station availability across the state. The long-term plan will be finalized by the end of the year. Also, following suit with numerous states across the country, Arizona voted not to regulate electric vehicle charging stations as public service corporations.
SWEEP filed multiple rounds of comments on the policy and testified at the Commission’s Open Meetings in support of its adoption.
Click here to review the draft Electric Vehicle Policy Implementation Plan.
Click here to review SWEEP’s first set of comments.
Click here to review SWEEP’s second set of comments.
Click here to review SWEEP’s third set of comments.
Click here to review SWEEP’s fourth set of comments.
Click here to review SWEEP’s legal brief.
Click here to view SWEEP’s press release along with Western Resource Advocates, Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire.
New SWEEP Technology Brief Delves Into Doability Of Air Sealing Multifamily Buildings
Improving air sealing is an important strategy to reduce energy waste in buildings. Across much of the U.S., air leakage testing in single-family homes has become an established practice for residential new construction ever since the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) was published. Yet the more complex practice of air sealing in multifamily buildings hasn’t yet become a common practice due to limited code enforcement by building departments and concerns about whether tighter air sealing is achievable in these buildings. This new SWEEP Technology Brief dives deeper into the doability of the practice by looking at a case study in Utah.
Flagstaff, Arizona Advances to Most Efficient Energy Code and Standard
On June 18, 2019, Flagstaff City Council adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code. The city had been operating under the less energy efficient 2009 IECC with weakening amendments since 2013. The adoption of the 2018 IECC will provide approximately 16% energy savings for new home buyers, cost effective for the homeowner and will provide approximately $300 in savings annually compared to the older code. New commercial building owners and tenants should see an approximate 20% energy savings. The City also added electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure requirements for commercial, multi-family and single-family buildings in the city. The Arizona EV market is booming and sales increased by 138% from 2017 to 2018.
Click here to view the final building codes
Rocky Mountain Power: Energy Savings Decline in 2018
Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) reports that its 2018 energy efficiency programs helped its customers in Utah save 262 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. This is a 24 percent reduction compared to the savings achieved by the utility’s programs in 2017. In addition to reduced energy savings, there were fewer participants in the programs in 2018 compared to 2017. Nonetheless, RMP indicates that its 2018 energy efficiency and other DSM programs yielded nearly $150 million in net economic benefits for the utility and its customers in Utah. RMP, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, serves about 900,000 customers in Utah.
Click here for a copy of RMP’s Utah Energy Efficiency and Peak Reduction Annual Report (note: large file size 31 MB)
New SWEEP Technology Brief Highlights Successful Dominion Energy Utah R-5 Windows Rebate Program
As part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Residential Buildings Integration program, SWEEP has published a technology brief highlighting an innovative residential buildings technology that is part of a utility-sponsored energy efficiency program in the Southwest. The first in a series of technology briefs highlights the Dominion Energy Utah R-5 windows rebate program. Dominion Energy Utah is a natural gas utility that provides service to more than 1 million customers in Utah. The company operates one of the most successful programs in the country to incentivize the most-efficient windows available on the market, known as R-5 windows. Dominion Energy Utah provided rebates for over 10,000 R-5 windows in 2018.
Markets for Energy Efficiency Products and Electric Vehicles Rapidly Growing
The Advanced Energy Now 2019 Market Report, published by the business organization Advanced Energy Economy, shows that all types of advanced energy products generated nearly $238 billion in sales revenues in the U.S. in 2018, nine percent greater than revenues in 2017. Of this total, building energy efficiency measures accounted for $83 billion in sales revenue—more than one third of the total. Building efficiency measures include high efficiency lighting, appliance, HVAC equipment, envelope measures, and energy management systems. Revenues from sales of building efficiency measures in the U.S. more than doubled between 2011 and 2018. Furthermore, revenues from sales of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the U.S. reached $18 billion in 2018, more than double the level in 2016.
Click here for a copy of Advanced Energy Now 2019 Market Report
Salt River Project Approves New, More Ambitious Sustainability Commitments for Carbon, Efficiency, and Electric Vehicles
On June 3, 2019, Salt River Project’s (SRP) Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt revised, more ambitious sustainability commitments through 2035 for the Arizona-based public power utility. The new commitments were adopted after an 8-month stakeholder engagement process that sought input from customers and public interest organizations including SWEEP.
The 17 sustainability targets approved by SRP include commitments for the utility to reduce carbon emissions from its generation fleet, expand investment in energy efficiency and demand response, save water, eliminate municipal solid waste, accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles, and boost customer and employee engagement - among others. Indeed, by 2035 SRP has committed to:
Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 43% below 2005 levels;
Deliver over 600,000 MWh of energy efficiency savings from energy efficiency programs implemented annually, on average;
Deliver over 300 MW of demand response; and
Support the electrification of 500,000 electric vehicles and manage the charging of 90% of them through pricing plans and other programs.
SWEEP served as a member of the SRP Advisory Committee and worked closely with SRP management throughout the process. In addition, resource modeling conducted by SWEEP, Western Resource Advocates (WRA), and Strategen Consulting played a pivotal role in increasing the level of ambition of SRP’s goals - approximately doubling the level of carbon emissions reductions compared to SRP’s original position.
SWEEP applauds SRP for its commitments to accelerate clean energy deployment in Arizona. SRP is a self-governed utility serving more than one million customers in Arizona.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
See SWEEP/WRA’s Press Release here
See SRP’s new sustainability commitments here
Sarah Wright Recognized by Utah Gov. Herbert as 2019 Energy Pioneer
Sarah Wright, the executive director and founder of Utah Clean Energy (a partner organization of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project), was recognized on 5/30 as one of four 2019 Utah Energy Pioneers by Governor Gary Herbert.
The award was presented at the annual Governor's Energy Summit - billed as the premier conference and trade show and the largest event of its kind in the Intermountain West, drawing more than 1,100 attendees and 70 speakers from across the globe to chart new paths for energy and minerals development at home and abroad.
Pictured above (L-R): Dr. Laura Nelson, Utah Governor's Energy Advisor: Sarah Wright of Utah Clean Energy; Utah Governor Gary Herbert
SWEEP Delivers Webinar on Energy Efficiency for Cannabis Grow Operations
SWEEP organized and led a webinar on April 2 on policies and programs to improve energy efficiency for the cannabis sector. Indoor cannabis grows are fairly energy-intensive, using about 10 times the electricity per square foot as a typical office building. And, in states with legalized recreational marijuana, energy consumption from the cannabis sector can grow rapidly.
The four nationally recognized speakers discussed some of the opportunities to improve energy efficiency for this sector, state and local approaches to regulating the industry, voluntary energy and sustainability certifications, and best practices for utility energy efficiency programs.
Travis Madsen Named SWEEP’s Transportation Program Director
We are pleased to announce that Travis Madsen has joined SWEEP as our new Transportation Program Director, replacing Will Toor who is now the Director of the Colorado Energy Office and an advisor to Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Travis has 18 years of experience working on clean energy and climate issues for Environment America, the Frontier Group, and NJ PIRG. He is working in SWEEP’s Boulder office.
His contact info is: firstname.lastname@example.org; ph: 303-447-0078 x6.
Utah’s Commercial Energy Code Gets an Upgrade From Utah Legislature
On February 28, 2019 the Utah Legislature passed HB 218-Construction Code Modifications, sponsored by Representative Mike Schultz. Among other things, this bill adopts the full commercial provisions of the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code and also, by reference, the ASHRE 90.1-2016 energy standard. The update of the commercial energy code represents a clear win for improved energy efficiency and air quality in Utah’s 2019 General Legislative Session. In Utah, “area source” emissions, which include emissions from building heating systems, now contribute nearly 40% of emissions that cause Utah’s bad air quality days. Building energy codes are a cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption, lower utility costs, and reduce air emissions.
HB 218 also amends Utah’s residential energy code in the following ways:
Adopts a new air tightness requirement for multifamily building of 5 air changes per hour (ACH) when tested at a pressure of 50 Pascal,
Makes permanent the air tightness requirement of 3.5 ACH for single family homes, repealing a phase-in to 3 ACH that would have taken effect on January 1, 2021, and
Adopts updated language about minimum fan efficacy for homes where whole-home mechanical ventilation is installed.
Through a separate bill, HB 187-Professional Licensing Amendments, the Utah Legislature added one hour of required “energy conservation” training for building contractors as part of contractors biannual licensure renewal.
Colorado Energy Director Will Toor to Drive Push Toward Renewables, Electric Vehicles
For six years, Toor worked on those director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, as a member of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, as a Boulder County commissioner and as Boulder mayor. He has taken the helm at the Colorado Energy Office at a time when changes in energy and transportation are among the top agenda items of a new governor.
Arizona Corporation Commission Approves Tucson Electric Power's Energy Efficiency Plan, Restores Programs
The Arizona Corporation Commission voted unanimously to approve Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) Energy Efficiency Plan at its February 6, 2019, Open Meeting. The approval of the $22.9 million plan will enable the Pima County utility to launch new programs that have been on hold since the Plan was initially filed in August 2017. Popular residential and commercial energy-savings programs will also be restored. Some of the offerings approved by the Commission’s decision include air conditioner tune-ups, duct sealing, and new heating and cooling systems. Since TEP’s Plan was filed in 2017, numerous businesses and individuals across Pima County sent letters to the Commission supporting the utility’s energy efficiency programs. SWEEP filed multiple rounds of comments on the Plan and testified at the Commission’s Open Meeting.
Governor Grisham Signs Executive Order Committing New Mexico to Essential Climate Change Action
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham today formally ordered that New Mexico will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, fully embracing the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, aligning New Mexico with the U.S. governors and states that have committed to a climate-conscious future and moves to protect people, natural resources, and cultural heritage. The governor also ordered the creation of a New Mexico Climate Change Task Force, calling on all state agencies to contribute to a statewide climate strategy and incorporate climate mitigation and adaptation practices into their programs and operations.
“Today marks an important shift in direction on climate policy in New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “We know all too well states cannot rely on the federal government right now to act responsibly and take the bold action scientists have made clear is needed to prevent calamitous climate change fallout in our lifetimes. It’s up to us. And, I have full confidence our commitments today will launch our state toward a robust transformation, with results delivered by each state agency to make a cohesive, effective whole.”
The New Mexico Climate Change Task Force formed by this executive order will provide strategic direction for achieving a statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality, and other measures that will protect New Mexico’s vital natural resources, align with the Paris goals, and keep New Mexico within what researchers have described as the upper bound of irreversible CO2 emissions. Those measures include: adoption of approaches to reduce greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles sold in New Mexico; adoption of a comprehensive market-based program that sets emission limits across New Mexico; adoption of new building codes; and the identification of transmission corridors needed to transport the state’s renewable electricity.
SWEEP Congratulates Southwest Utilities Offering Nation-Leading Energy Efficiency Programs
Every five years the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (“ACEEE”) reviews energy efficiency programs around the country and recognizes exemplary programs in fourteen categories. This year ACEEE recognized five energy efficiency programs offered in the SWEEP states as exemplary examples of innovative and effective energy efficiency programs.
Leading the way, with three program selections, is Xcel Energy in Colorado. ACEEE recognized Xcel’s Low-Income Program, which in partnership with Energy Outreach Colorado, provides weatherization services for low-income customers by combining multiple streams of funding and a multi-pronged delivery approach into an effective utility-nonprofit partnership. Xcel Energy was also honored for its Energy Design Assistance Program, which generates energy and cost savings for businesses considering new construction and major renovation projects, and its Partners in Energy Program, where Xcel works with communities to develop and implement community-driven energy action plans.
In Nevada, NV Energy, was recognized for its leading Residential Demand Response Program. As part of this program, NV Energy has installed more than 124,000 devices across the state that allow the utility to temporarily manage customer loads during emergency conditions, such as on the hottest summer days. By reducing energy usage at times of system stress, NV Energy avoids the need to invest in generation and distribution resources that will sit idle for most hours of the year.
Finally, a multi-state Bonneville Power Administration Program available to industrial customers of some publically owned utilities in Wyoming was honored in the Medium and Large Commercial and Industrial category. The Energy Smart Industrial Program is a broad portfolio of program components targeted at a diverse group of industrial end users.
SWEEP congratulates the utilities offering these nation-leading energy efficiency programs. The full report is available at: https://aceee.org/research-report/u1901.
Reno Adopts Policy to Help Commercial Buildings Save Energy and Money
Reno’s City Council unanimously passed a new ordinance on January 9, 2019, to help businesses measure and improve the energy performance of their buildings, and help the real estate market properly value energy upgrades.
Reno’s new ordinance is expected to save $62 million on energy bills, create 300 local jobs, provide and $14M in air quality benefits by 2030, as well as promoting Reno’s position as a leading sustainable city to attract new businesses and investments.
Reno is one of five cities in the Southwest and 26 cities nationally to adopt a similar benchmarking and transparency ordinance – one of the most effective actions a city can take to lower energy costs and climate change emissions from commercial and multifamily buildings.
The new ordinance requires commercial and multifamily buildings above 30,000 square feet to track and report on energy usage over time, allowing building owners and managers to better compare performance between buildings and to learn from each other about cost-effective investments to reduce operational costs. It also allows buyers and tenants to make better-informed decisions about buildings in which they live and work based on energy use and estimated utility costs.
The ordinance also includes performance targets to help pull up the lowest-performing buildings, ensuring that Reno’s building stock is constantly improving. Options for low-performing buildings include tried-and-true solutions as energy audits (to uncover opportunities for cost savings) and retrocommissioning (re-tuning a building’s controls and equipment).