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Posts in Category: Utility Policy

5 Trends and Observations in Energy Codes

Colorado Edition

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 Colorado’s experience can be highly informative to builders and policymakers outside of the Centennial State. 

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Colorado Adopts Ambitious Electric Vehicle Targets

Goal: Nearly 1 million EVs registered in the state by 2030

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. Perhaps the most important goal in the plan is to go from about 13,000 EVs in Colorado at the end of 2017 to 940,000 by 2030.

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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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 Trump 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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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, ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

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 ...
 

The Supreme Court Did Not "Stay" Energy Efficiency

The Environmental Protection Agency has included energy efficiency as a compliance option under the Clean Power Plan. This enables states and utilities to meet emissions reductions goals at least cost and—quite likely—net economic benefits for households, businesses and the economy as a whole. Whether states and utilities are waiting for a Supreme Court decision on the "stay" of the Clean Power Plan or moving forward with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency is the least-cost compliance path and has other benefits.  

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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. Many utilities are proposing to increase the monthly fixed charge and consequently reduce the variable “cents per kilowatt-hour” energy charge that households and small businesses pay. Charging residential and small business customers for the peak electricity demand that they register in any particular month is another proposal that is starting to surface in the Southwest. Here's how those proposals affect customers and why SWEEP participates in rate cases throughout the Southwest in order to ensure that rates continue to encourage greater energy efficiency.

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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 down.

All of the southwest states (AZ, CO, NM, NV and UT) have announced significant coal plant retirements that will occur in the 2016-2020 time frame, and more coal plants are expected to be shut down after 2020. 

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Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy Efficiency

Utilities are Heading Upstream to Increase Energy EfficiencyMidstream 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 such as the Small Business Program offered by Tucson Electric Power in Arizona and the Business Cooling Program offered by Xcel Energy Colorado show how midstream designs can drive energy savings while achieving market transformation in the commercial sector.

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