The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) advances utility policies and programs to increase energy efficiency, saving customers money and reducing pollution.
SWEEP promotes the expansion and improvement of electric utility energy efficiency programs in the Southwest. We work on rules and regulations to establish energy savings goals or requirements, decoupling of utility cost recovery and electricity sales, and financial incentives so that utilities and their shareholders are not penalized when they help their customers save energy. We advise utilities as they design and implement energy efficiency programs, and we frequently appear before state utility commissions when utility energy efficiency policies and programs are under review.
*Savings and benefits data preliminary as of spring 2023.
Areas of focus
Utility efficiency program and policy overview
Thanks to SWEEP’s efforts, electric utilities in the Southwest continue to expand their energy efficiency programs, helping households and businesses in the region save billions of dollars.
Over the past decade, electric utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah spent nearly $4 billion on energy efficiency and other programs. These programs help households and businesses save energy and lower their electricity bills through education, technical assistance, direct installation, and rebates for energy saving measures. Most of the programs focus on lowering electricity consumption, but some programs focus on reducing peak electric demand.
The overall energy savings achievement also means that utilities in the region avoided constructing and operating several baseload power plants as a result of the efficiency programs implemented during the period. Avoiding construction of these power plants along with associated transmission and distribution lines saved utilities (or third party owners of power plants) billions of dollars, investments that if they had been made would eventually be paid for by utility customers.
The energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in the Southwest provide economic benefits that far exceed the costs of the programs and measures. The net economic benefits were calculated by the utilities using the benefit-cost methodology approved in each state.
The energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in the Southwest provide enormous environmental benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the operation of coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants, which are still the primary sources of electric power in the region. Greater environmental benefits lead to improved public health, limiting impacts of climate change and protecting climate vulnerable and marginalized communities, and improving air quality. In addition, these energy efficiency programs reduce water consumption for power generation and in homes.
In summary, households and businesses in the Southwest are realizing large economic benefits as a result of the energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in the region. Likewise, the environment is benefitting from lower CO2 and other pollutant emissions by power plants and buildings. These benefits will grow in the future as energy efficiency programs continue to stimulate the adoption of energy efficient appliances, lights, buildings, and industrial processes. Nearly a dozen large power plants have already been avoided as a result of utility energy efficiency programs, and more will be avoided as these programs continue to provide cost-effective energy savings.
State utility energy efficiency programs and fact sheets
SWEEP has prepared a paper (updated January 2021) reviewing the impacts and benefits of programs implemented by the major electric utilities in the Southwest during 2010-2019. SWEEP has also prepared a set of fact sheets on electric utility energy efficiency programs and their impacts by state:
Updated December 2020
Arizona electric utility energy efficiency program fact sheet
Colorado electric utility energy efficiency program fact sheet
Nevada electric utility energy efficiency program fact sheet
New Mexico electric utility energy efficiency program fact sheet
Energy efficiency goals or standards for electric and gas utilities.
Performance-based financial incentives so that utility shareholders are not penalized when investor-owned utilities help their customers save energy.
Beneficial electrification in state and local plans to achieve aggressive climate change goals, including: using energy as efficiently as possible, and reducing the carbon-intensity of the electricity grid through renewable energy sources. Switching from fossil fuel use to electricity, in buildings and vehicles, results in significant carbon dioxide emission reductions.
Integrated resource planning and other techniques for identifying and pursuing cost-effective energy efficiency options in the context of utility resource planning.
Decoupling of utility sales and cost recovery.
Resources and publications
Support our work
Supporting SWEEP’s Utility Program allows us to further enhance and build upon already effective energy efficiency, clean transportation, and climate strategies and successes that will help communities harness economic advantages for a future with cleaner and healthier air, lower energy costs, and protection for our most climate vulnerable neighbors.