Press Coverage

March 2020

  • Failure to raise fuel tax cost Colorado billions group says
    AASHTO Journal - March 23, 2020
    A new research paper compiled by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) said that Colorado missed out on $7 billion in transportation funding since 1991, largely because the state has not raised its gas tax to keep up with inflation. The report – entitled Sustainable Transportation Funding for Colorado: Modernizing the Gas Tax to Improve Air Quality, Protect the Climate, and Save Money – recommends policy reforms to increase transportation funding, while at the same time helping Colorado build a cleaner and more efficient transportation system. “We need to do more than just raise money to improve our road network,” explained Travis Madsen, SWEEP’s transportation director and co-author of the report, in a statement. “Modernizing the gas tax can drive Colorado in a better direction.”
  • Nevada to consider transportation electrification efforts
    Transportation Today - March 16, 2020
    Nevada decision-makers and statewide transportation industry leaders gathered recently for the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum to discuss transportation electrification and its potential benefits. The session, hosted by Plug In America, Southwest Energy Efficiency Program (SWEEP) and Clark County, stemmed from the state’s desire to address greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy air pollution in the transportation sector." Representatives from state agencies, local governments, chambers of commerce, casinos, universities, electric utilities, solar companies, building associations, auto dealerships, and non-profit associations were among those in attendance.
  • Report: Colorado should "modernize" gas tax to raise money
    Colorado Politics - March 13, 2020
    A report from a clean-energy advocacy group found that Colorado’s revenue shortfall for transportation is due in large part to a static gas tax, and recommended raising it and indexing it to inflation. “The gas tax was a good idea when it was designed by states in the 1920s,” wrote the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project in its “Sustainable Transportation Funding for Colorado” report. “It is directly connected to road use: the more you drive, the more you pay. It also contains an inherent incentive for energy efficiency, where people who drive more efficient vehicles pay less.” The Colorado Department of Transportation has a $25 billion funding gap for infrastructure over the next 25 years, which it attributes to greater fuel efficiency of vehicles, adoption of alternative-fuel vehicles, and a 22-cent-per-gallon gas tax that has remained unchanged since 1991. SWEEP dismissed the notion that electric vehicle adoption was behind the funding shortfall, calculating that if all EVs in Colorado were instead typical internal combustion cars, gas tax revenue would increase by $40 million over five years. That is one-tenth of the revenue lost to inflation and fuel efficiency, the group stated.
  • Leader of state Energy Office touts clean power in Durango
    Durango Herald - March 12, 2020
    State legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean electricity has made Colorado a leader in environmental protection. That was the optimistic message brought to Durango on Wednesday by Will Toor, director of the Colorado Energy Office. He is the former director of the transportation program at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and a former mayor of Boulder and a Boulder County commissioner. Toor is developing a road map to Colorado’s goals under the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, a bill passed in 2019 that calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050.
  • Proposed tax hike seeks to address lack of funding for roads
    White Mountain Independent - March 3, 2020
    By Howard Fischer Capital Media Services [PHOENIX, ARIZONA] — State lawmakers took the first steps to what could be a doubling of the state’s gasoline tax. HB 2899, approved by the House Transportation Committee on a 6-0 vote, would add six cents to the current 18-cent-a-gallon effective on July 1. That would go up an additional six cents every year until it hits 36 cents on July 1 2023. Potentially more significant, the measure being pushed by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, is crafted so that the levy would increase annually starting July 1, 2024 to match inflation. That would preclude the need for future legislators to have to deal with the politically sensitive issue of voting for a tax hike. Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said that’s how Arizona got to the point where it is now, with road construction needs outstripping the available revenues because the current tax has not been increased since 1991. “We haven’t had members with the backbone to adjust this,’’ he said. But it’s that inflation adjustment that is giving heartburn to the Arizona Petroleum Marketing Association which represents gasoline dealers. Lobbyist Mike Williams told lawmakers that if the 1991 legislation had an inflation index Arizona now would have the highest gasoline tax in the Western states.

February 2020

  • Cities are starting to ban gas in buildings, Arizona's not having it
    Grist - February 27, 2020
    Like many cities around the country, Phoenix, Arizona, has a plan to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But a new state law that was fast-tracked through the Arizona legislature and signed by the governor last week could cripple Phoenix and other Arizona cities’ ability to pull their climate plans off. It only took a month for HB 2686 to go from bill to law after it was introduced on January 21. The new law prevents Arizona’s cities and towns from passing codes or ordinances that could “have the effect of restricting a person’s or entity’s ability to use the services of a utility provider.” In essence, it prohibits them from banning natural gas or other fossil fuels in buildings. The funny thing is that there’s no evidence that anyone in the state was even considering a gas ban. “No cities, that we are aware of, were even remotely looking at or considering this type of action,” Caryn Potter, the Arizona program associate for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP, told Grist Potter said the bill was indicative of the legislature’s fear of the “Berkeley-ization” of Arizona. While it’s true that Californians have been flocking to neighboring states in search of lower taxes and costs of living, Potter said there’s no evidence of a sea change sweeping Arizona around the politics of natural gas. “They have this idea that they have to put the cart before the horse, when the horse is not even there,” she said.
  • Arizona lawmakers considering doubling the gas tax
    NBC 12 News - February 26, 2020
    The current Arizona gas tax of 18 cents per gallon hasn't been changed since 1991. Author: Mackenzie Concepcion Published: 6:41 AM MST February 26, 2020 Updated: 6:41 AM MST February 26, 2020 PHOENIX — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would do something that hasn't been done in Arizona in almost 30 years: increase the gas tax. HB 2899, proposed by Republican Rep. Noel Campell, would double the gas tax over the next three years for standard passenger cars. The tax would increase 6 cents per year: 2021: 24 cents per gallon 2022: 30 cents per gallon 2023: 36 cents per gallon Owners of electric and hybrid vehicles would have to pay an annual tax. For electric vehicles, the fee starts at $111 in 2021, then increases to $139 in 2022, then to $166 in 2023. For hybrids, the annual tax is $45 in 2021, $56 in 2022 and $67 in 2023. After 2023, the taxes will be adjusted to reflect inflation. The current gas tax of 18 cents per gallon has not been changed since 1991, and it does not apply to alternative fuels. The money collected from the tax goes toward the Highway Patrol and maintaining state highways. But for years, lawmakers have prioritized the Highway Patrol, putting off road repairs. The Legislature tried to alleviate the issue in 2018 when it approved a new “public safety fee." It added $32 to the vehicle registration process starting in January 2019. However, the fee – which was signed into law during a statewide teacher strike – took many by surprise and was so unpopular that lawmakers eventually reached a deal to phase it out by July 2021.
  • Driven to Exhaustion: Can Denver End Its Love Affair With the Car?
    Westword - February 25, 2020
    CHASE WOODRUFF | FEBRUARY 25, 2020 | 6:07AM The hundreds of transportation nerds gathered at Bicycle Colorado’s annual Moving People Forward conference earlier this month weren’t the kind of people who need much of an excuse to get excited about a day full of panels on traffic safety, regional funding solutions and data-driven micromobility policy. But the hottest ticket at this year’s event, held at the downtown Embassy Suites on February 10, was a live taping of an episode of The War on Cars, the funny and informative podcast about the past, present and future of America’s relationship with the automobile — or, as co-host Doug Gordon put it as he took the stage, “the podcast where three New Yorkers come to Denver and tell you everything that you need to do.” After some banter, the show’s hosts welcomed their guest, 9News anchor Kyle Clark, for a conversation on the way local news covers transportation and mobility issues. At one point, Clark came clean: “I drove my SUV here this morning.”
  • Gas tax hike bill passes committee
    Eastern Arizona Courier - February 21, 2020
    PHOENIX — State lawmakers took the first steps Wednesday to what could be a doubling of the state’s gasoline tax. HB 2899, approved by the House Transportation Committee on a 6-0 vote, would add six cents to the current 18-cent-a-gallon effective on July 1. That would go up an additional six cents every year until it hits 36 cents on July 1 2023. Potentially more significant, the measure being pushed by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, is crafted so that the levy would increase annually starting July 1, 2024 to match inflation. That would preclude the need for future legislators to have to deal with the politically sensitive issue of voting for a tax hike. Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said that’s how Arizona got to the point where it is now, with road construction needs outstripping the available revenues because the current tax has not been increased since 1991.
  • Arizona gasoline tax would double under bill advancing in House
    Tucson.com - February 20, 2020
    PHOENIX — State lawmakers took the first steps Wednesday to what could be a doubling of the state’s gasoline tax. House Bill 2899, approved by the House Transportation Committee on a 6-0 vote, would add six cents on July 1 to the current 18-cents-a-gallon tax. That would go up an additional six cents every year until it hits 36 cents. Potentially more significant, the levy would also increase annually after that to match inflation, under the measure being pushed by Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott. That would preclude the need for future legislators to deal with the politically sensitive issue of voting for a tax hike. Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said lack of political willpower is how Arizona got to the point where it is now, with road construction needs outstripping available revenues because the current tax has not increased since 1991.
  • Local Motion: Public Transit on the Western Slope
    KVNF - February 18, 2020
    By JODI PETERSON In this edition, we talk about public transit. Here on the Western Slope, distances between towns are long, and we end up mostly driving our own cars to get where we need to go. But the state of Colorado is working to make it easier to leave the car at home for trips between towns, and even to the Front Range, with its Bustang bus service. KVNF's Jodi Peterson interviews a public transit expert, the head of CDOT's Bustang service, and several passengers and drivers.

January 2020

  • APS commits to 45% renewables by 2030
    AZBIGMEDIA - January 23, 2020
    Conservation and consumer groups today welcomed Arizona Public Service’s (APS) announcement that will set the utility on a path toward 45 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by mid-century. Currently, 13 percent of the utility’s electricity is generated from renewable sources. Specifically, the utility is committing to provide 65 percent carbon-free electricity generation by 2030, with 45 percent coming from renewable resources, and to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity generation by 2050. APS will close all of its coal-fired power plants by 2031. APS joins six other major electric utilities throughout the United States that have voluntarily committed to 100 percent clean energy: Avista (2045), Duke Energy (2050), Green Mountain Power (2025), Idaho Power (2045), Public Service Company of New Mexico (2040), and Xcel Energy (2050).
  • Microgrids Deliver Resiliency, Security and Savings
    loT World Today - January 17, 2020
    The term microgrid suggests thinking small, but the big picture for these IoT-based energy technologies is how they could revolutionize the distribution of electrical energy around the world. Microgrids—often also referred to as smart grids—are essentially subsets of the larger electrical utility grids, designed to give organizations greater control over their energy resources and to make better use of utility-provided energy in conjunction with locally produced power.
  • Tri-State rolls out its plan to expand renewable energy across Colorado
    Colorado Politics - January 15, 2020
    Westminster-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association formally announced Wednesday the news that broke last week at the state Capitol. The outfit that supplies rural electric co-ops is going green after weathering for years the perception by some members and environmental critics that it was resistant to renewable energy in favor of coal. Now it’s aiming to give up coal as a source of energy.
  • Coming To Your Town: New Homes Built To Be EV-Ready
    CleanTechnica - January 14, 2020
    The US will need 9.6 million new electric vehicle charging ports by 2030. Where will all those chargers be located? According to recent research, almost 80% of those will be in single and multi-family residential buildings. That’s a big change. Homes in the US are typically built with wiring for only a few 240W outlets in the garage, just enough to handle a washer and dryer. But the International Code Council (ICC) has foreseen the need for this radical increase in EV chargers, and it approved changes to building standards in a 2020 provision that will allow all new homes built in the US to be EV-ready.
  • New U.S. Building Codes Require Plugs for Electric Cars
    Quartz - January 10, 2020
    In January, the International Code Council (ICC) approved changes to building standards that preview a world in which every home has at least one electric car. The building standards organization, which sets voluntary guidelines for new homes, voted to approve a new provision that, functionally, will make all new homes built in the US “EV-ready.” SWEEP designed and advocated for the new code.
  • These New Building Codes Could Finally Ensure New Houses are Ready for Charging Electric Vehicles
    EE Online - January 8, 2020
    Electric cars are the future of personal vehicles – they’re more efficient than conventional gasoline options, cost far less to operate, and enable significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Electric vehicle (EV) sales are growing quickly; some experts predict they will account for more than 11% of new sales in the United States by 2025, and a majority of sales by 2040. To support this market shift, we need to rethink our transportation infrastructure, and especially how we fuel – or charge – our vehicles.
  • Nevada Energy's solar energy plan touted by environmental groups, criticized by others
    The Center Square - January 3, 2020
    Environmental groups are backing a plan by Nevada Energy to add new solar renewable energy projects and energy storage capacity to the state. The plan, approved early last month by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, will add 1,190 megawatts of new solar renewable energy projects to Nevada -- capable of powering about 230 homes -- as well as another 590 megawatts of energy storage capacity, and cost about $55 million.