Regional News Briefs

May

David Ellenberger Joins SWEEP’s Staff as Communications Director

In mid-May, David Ellenberger has come onboard as the new Communications Director and is excited to promote and publicize the many accomplishments and initiatives of SWEEP. David has more than 24 years of non-profit, advocacy campaign experience – most recently serving as the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Campaigns Manager in Denver. He has also worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Montana Conservation Voters and Sierra Club in his past endeavors. He’ll be based in SWEEP’s Boulder office. 

His contact info is: dellenberger@swenergy.org; ph: (303) 447-0078 x5.

April

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.

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March

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: tmadsen@swenergy.org; ph: 303-447-0078 x6.

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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.

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February

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.

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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.

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January

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.

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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.

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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).