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Posts in Category: Utility Policy

Tucson and Pima County Lead With Ultra-Efficient Buildings

Both Approve 2018 Energy Conservation Code
Tucson and Pima County Lead With Ultra-Efficient Buildings
Future jobs and savings for homeowners and tenants all scored a big win within the past week, when the Tucson, AZ, City Council and the Pima County, AZ Board of Supervisors approved the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and council members from all six wards and, separately, all five Pima County supervisors agreed that future homes and apartments should provide healthy, secure, and energy-efficient housing in southern Arizona’s biggest... More
 

Autonomous Vehicle Policy: Taking the wheel on driverless cars

Will it be "heaven" or "hell" for traffic congestion?
Autonomous Vehicle Policy: Taking the wheel on driverless cars
Just about every day I open the paper and read about some new technological or business development regarding driverless cars. Most of these stories come with breathless anticipation of all of the great things that autonomous vehicles will bring: fewer crashes, less congestion, more access for people who can’t drive. In some authors’ telling, personal car ownership will quickly become a thing of the past, replaced by electric “robo” taxis called up on a moment’s notice, paving the way for a... More
 

Group Buy Programs Boost Electric Car Sales

Offers key opportunities for regional collaboration on clean transportation
Group Buy Programs Boost Electric Car Sales
Widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption faces several challenges, including lack of consumer awareness, limited EV inventory, insufficient sales training, and the high price of new electric cars. EV group buy programs address these obstacles by bringing together local governments, nonprofits, electric utilities, auto dealerships, and auto manufacturers to boost EV sales through a combination of community engagement and EV purchasing incentives. What are EV group buy programs? EV group... More
 

Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Two Steps Forward and One Potential Step Back

Recent developments in the region bode well for future energy efficiency efforts
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Two Steps Forward and One Potential Step Back
Electric utilities in the Southwest expanded their energy efficiency programs over the past decade, except for a few bumps in the road (see chart). In 2017, all of the major utilities in the region were at or above the national average savings percentage for larger utilities which is approximately 0.9 percent of retail electricity sales according to ACEEE. The leading utilities, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) and the Salt River Project (SRP), achieved savings equal to 1.5 to 2.0 percent of... More
 

Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

Number of workers outstrip all other energy sectors
Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest
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. The chart below shows the number of energy efficiency ... More
 

5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes

Colorado Edition
5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes
Download a PDF version of this article Every one of Colorado’s 333 local jurisdictions is responsible for adopting its own local building code. That diversity gives us a comprehensive picture of how energy codes are perceived, considered, adopted, amended, and enforced across different parts of the state, and how they change over time. Here are five trends we’ve seen shaping the status of our energy codes in Colorado so far in 2018. These themes appear in many other home-rule states, too, so ... More
 

Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets

Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030
Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets
The state of Colorado has just released a bold new electric vehicle plan that builds on the state’s work to date and shows the way to an electrified future. The plan (developed by the Colorado Energy Office, the Regional Air Quality Council, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Transportation), was spurred by Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order from July of 2017, “Supporting Colorado’s Clean Energy Transition.” The plan lays out... More
 

Getting Into the Weeds:

Helping cannabis growers save energy
Getting Into the Weeds:
Indoor cannabis grow operations can be very energy intensive, using about ten times the amount of energy per square foot as a typical office building. In states where either medical or recreational cannabis is legal, utilities can achieve big energy savings by proactively engaging with these customers. SWEEP just released a new report on this topic, “A Budding Opportunity: Energy efficiency best practices for cannabis grow operations.” Three leading utilities in the Northwest are reaping... More
 

New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest

SWEEP documents how utility programs help consumers, businesses and the environment
New Facts Underscore How Much Energy Efficiency Benefits the Southwest
SWEEP’s updated and just-published fact sheets show the benefits to consumers and the environment from energy efficiency programs implemented by electric utilities in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. SWEEP’s full paper, reviewing the history and effects of these programs, can be read here. Some of the information deserves emphasis and is summarized in this blog. The fact sheets and paper demonstrate that electric utilities in the region have generated enormous... More
 

Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles

State is accepting comments through October 13
Colorado VW Plan Supports Transition to Electric Vehicles
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has released a draft plan on how the state will allocate approximately $70 million in funding that the state will receive as part of the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. The settlement funds are designed to reduce air pollution from vehicles, in order to mitigate the effects of the non-compliant, diesel-fueled Volkswagens. During a 2016 public comment period, the public overwhelmingly told the department... More
 

Home Builders in SWEEP States Win Prestigious National Innovation Awards

Southwest builders honored in 4 of 5 categories
Home Builders in SWEEP States Win Prestigious National Innovation Awards
Each year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognizes the Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program builders with the department’s Innovation in Housing Awards. Only the top 1 percent of builders in the nation receive these prestigious awards. But this year, builders from SWEEP states won the Innovation in Housing awards in four of the five categories: Affordable Home, Multi-Family Home, Production Home and Custom Home (Buyers). The Custom (Spec) category was the only housing category without a ... More
 

Don't Gut Federal Energy Efficiency Programs

Don
Federal energy efficiency programs within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are threatened with devastating budget cuts proposed by the Drumpf Administration. Should citizens, businesses, and elected officials in the Southwest care? Absolutely! According to a 2017 DOE report, Southwestern states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, and WY) are home to 123,000 energy efficiency jobs -- more jobs, in fact, than any other segment of the energy industry including oil... More
 

A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars

SWEEP report offers specific steps that the city can take
A Better Way to Help Denverites Power Electric Cars
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on July 11, 2017, in which he pledged that Colorado would meet the Paris climate targets, and set goals for reducing emissions through more renewable energy, ramping up utility energy efficiency programs, making buildings greener, and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). In order to meet these emissions targets, the state will need to ramp up electric vehicle adoption, and do it fast. While the EV market in... More
 

Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?

Hint: It’s not fossil fuels production
Which Segment of the Energy Industry Supports the Most Jobs in the Southwest?
The Powder River Basin in Wyoming is the largest coal-producing region in the U.S. There are tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells as well as over 1,900 wind turbines operating on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Eastern New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing region, and large-scale solar power plants are sprouting up across the desert Southwest. But which segment of energy industry supports the most jobs in the energy-rich Southwest? Answer: It’s the energy efficiency industry, ... More
 

Southwest Has More “Zero Energy” Homes and Homebuilders Than Anywhere Else in the Country

Reasons for progress could Serve as national model
Southwest Has More “Zero Energy” Homes and Homebuilders Than Anywhere Else in the Country
This Zero-Energy home in Durango, Colorado, keeps residents warm even in winter at an elevation of over 6,500 feet. More than 60 percent of the most energy-efficient homes built today in the country have been constructed in the Southwest. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of the homebuilders who make these highly efficient houses also are based in this region. The reasons for this success could serve as a model for other parts of the nation seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of... More
 

Time for States to Step Up on Clean Transportation

States, cities can embrace EVs, add public transit
Time for States to Step Up on Clean Transportation
When President Donald Trump recently walked away from the Paris Climate Agreement, his decision spurred many states, cities and businesses nationwide to step up their own push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what the federal government does or doesn’t do. One key area for action is transforming America’s transportation systems. Cars and trucks are now the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Emissions from electricity generation are declining due to the... More
 

Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency

States, local governments must pick up the slack
Doubling Down on Energy Efficiency
On the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration as 45th President, he has nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, and Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. If the adage "personnel is policy" holds true, energy efficiency and clean energy will face a tough four years with respect to federal policy. While it's too early to know what specific actions the Trump Administration will take, it's reasonable to assume that the Clean Power Plan will fall by the wayside; use... More
 

Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016

It's the first national Energy Efficiency Day: Get on board via social media.
Elevate Energy Efficiency on Oct. 5, 2016
On October 5, 2016, a network of organizations and partners across the country will join together to promote the benefits of energy efficiency for the first-ever, nationwide Energy Efficiency Day. You are invited to participate. Campaign Goals: Boost the visibility of energy efficiency and talk about its benefits Showcase people who are doing concrete, effective things to save energy and money It's all happening this first year on social media, and we've made it easy for... More
 

Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest

Generating enormous benefits for consumers and the environment
Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest
The major electric utilities in the Southwest greatly expanded their energy efficiency programs over the past eight years, programs that will result in their customers saving $5.5 billion net according to the utilities’ own data. These programs help households and businesses save energy through education, technical assistance and rebates, thereby increasing the adoption of energy-efficient lights, appliances, buildings, industrial processes, and the like. Utility energy efficiency programs ... More
 

The Supreme Court Did Not "Stay" Energy Efficiency

The Supreme Court Did Not "Stay" Energy Efficiency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included many references to energy efficiency as a strategy to achieve Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance and encouraged states and utilities to pursue this path. Even though the Supreme Court of the United States has issued a “stay” on the CPP, some states are moving ahead with CPP planning and/or related efforts. We appreciate these efforts as the CPP represents a significant step forward in our nation’s efforts to mitigate against climate change. ... More
 

Sensible Rate Design for Residential and Small Business Customers

Sensible Rate Design for Residential and Small Business Customers
With growth in electricity sales disappearing and adoption of rooftop solar systems expanding, electric utilities are increasingly proposing new rate designs in order to protect and stabilize their revenues. SWEEP participates in rate cases throughout the Southwest to challenge these utility proposals, ensure that rates continue to encourage greater energy efficiency, and help protect low-income consumers. Many utilities are proposing to increase the monthly fixed charge and... More
 

Staying the Course: Despite Supreme Court Decision on Clean Power Plan, Progress Continues

Energy efficiency policies and programs are generally scaling up across the southwest
Staying the Course: Despite Supreme Court Decision on Clean Power Plan, Progress Continues
The Supreme Court recently took the unprecedented action of "staying" the Clean Power Plan prior to its review by the U.S. Court of Appeals. This means the Clean Power Plan will not go into effect while the litigation is pending. However, this does not mean that efforts to reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will or should stop in southwest states or elsewhere. Nor does it mean that efforts to accelerate cost-effective energy efficiency improvements will or should slow ... More
 

Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy Efficiency

Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy Efficiency
Midstream utility energy efficiency programs provide utility-funded incentives to equipment distributors and contractors to stock and sell energy efficient measures, such as commercial lighting products and heating and cooling equipment. By contrast, downstream programs pay incentives directly to consumers or businesses that purchase energy-efficient products. SWEEP has discussed the advantages of upstream and midstream program designs over traditional downstream designs here. Programs... More