Regional Energy Efficiency News
PacifiCorp Boosts Support for Energy Efficiency in New Integrated Resource Plan
PacifiCorp, the main investor-owned utility in Utah and Wyoming through its Rocky Mountain Power subsidiary, has issued its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The 2013 IRP calls for an expansion of the utility’s energy efficiency programs over the next 10 years despite lower projected load growth compared to that in the 2011 IRP. In the preferred portfolio in the 2013 IRP, energy efficiency resources meet 67 percent of projected load growth during 2013-22. The IRP action plan identifies the steps that PacifiCorp will take to accelerate acquisition of cost-effective energy efficiency resources. SWEEP and its partner Utah Clean Energy (UCE) provided input and influenced PacifiCorp’s 2013 IRP.
Click here for PacifiCorp’s 2013 IRP and supporting materials.
Congratulations to 2013 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest!
On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) honored businesses and organizations for their outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency at the 2013 ENERGY STAR Awards ceremony. SWEEP congratulates the seven award winners with operations in the Southwest region.
Five organizations in our region were honored with an ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence for their long-standing, effective efforts to promote and expand the market for energy-efficient homes:
Arizona Public Service (Phoenix, AZ)
Meritage Homes (Scottsdale, AZ)
Energy Inspectors (Las Vegas, NV)
EnergyLogic (Berthoud, CO)
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver (Denver, CO)
In addition, FSL Home Energy Solutions (Phoenix, AZ) received an award for Excellence in ENERGY STAR Promotion, and Rocky Mountain Power (Salt Lake City, UT) received Special Recognition for energy efficiency program delivery.
The complete list of award winners, with details of their energy efficiency accomplishments, is available on the ENERGY STAR website.
Xcel Energy Achieves Record Energy Savings in 2012
Xcel Energy helped its customers realize 401 million kWh per year of energy savings from efficiency programs implemented in 2012, a 29% increase compared to savings from programs implemented in 2011, according to the company’s newly released Demand-Side Management Annual Status Report. Xcel’s 2012 results exceeded the savings goal set by the Colorado PUC by 22% and are equivalent to about 1.3% of retail electricity sales. Xcel estimates that its 2012 electric efficiency programs will save households and businesses $170 million net over the lifetime of the efficiency measures installed last year. Xcel Energy also implemented successful natural gas energy efficiency programs in 2012. Xcel Energy serves about 1.4 million customers in Colorado.
PNM Expands Energy Savings in 2012
Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) helped its business and residential customers save 79 million kWh per year through energy efficiency programs implemented by the utility in 2012. The savings are equivalent to the electricity use of 10,500 households and represent a 38% increase over savings achieved in 2011. PNM also estimates that energy efficiency measures installed in 2012 will save households and businesses $36 million net over the lifetime of the measures. PNM is the largest electric utility in New Mexico serving about 505,000 customers.
SWEEP Releases Report on Strategic Energy Management Programs for Large Commercial and Industrial Customers
SWEEP has released a new report: Utility Strategic Energy Management Programs. Based upon a review of three highly effective strategic energy management (SEM) programs currently offered in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., the report makes recommendations for utilities which are considering developing such programs in the Southwest and elsewhere.
SEM programs offer funding of energy management staff positions at large companies or public sector entities and/or training in developing systems for continuous improvement of energy management. Three utilities or third-party energy efficiency program administrators in the Northwest—Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon, and Puget Sound Energy—have achieved documented energy savings from SEM programs of 15-25% of their total savings for all commercial and industrial efficiency programs. These three programs have also demonstrated that it is possible to measure savings from operations and maintenance improvements in a rigorous way, and that SEM programs can be very cost effective. SEM programs can deliver impressive results, and deserve serious consideration by utilities seeking ways to achieve more energy savings from industrial and other large customers.
Energy Efficiency Legislation Adopted in New Mexico
Two bills that SWEEP supported were adopted by the New Mexico legislature in the final days of the 2013 legislative session. SWEEP expects that both bills will be signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez.
HB 267 advances electric utility energy efficiency efforts in New Mexico by establishing a fixed tariff rider (3% of utility revenues) for funding energy efficiency and load management programs. It also changes the main cost effectiveness test from the Total Resource Cost (TRC) to the Utility Cost (UC) test which will make it easier for most programs to pass cost effectiveness scrutiny. The bill was a compromise among energy efficiency advocates, New Mexico’s utilities, and the Public Regulation Commission and as such also reduces the energy savings requirement in 2020 for electric utilities from 10% to 8% of sales. SWEEP supported the bill believing that on balance it is a positive step forward for utility energy efficiency efforts in New Mexico.
SB 14 extends the state's sustainable buildings tax credits for five additional years, through 2018. The tax credits apply to LEED Silver or better commercial buildings, LEED Silver and Building Green New Mexico Silver or better new homes, and ENERGY STAR certified manufactured housing.
Energy Code Improvements Adopted in Utah
This March, the Utah Legislature adopted the first meaningful update to Utah’s home energy standards in seven years, cutting energy waste in new homes. House Bill 202, sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson, adopts the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) on a statewide basis, including the complete commercial energy code provisions and a modified version of the residential provisions of the 2012 IECC.
In addition to cutting energy costs in new homes by about 10% (compared to the current energy code), the higher standards are expected to pump about $18 million into the state’s economy over the next 10 years by adding to the value of new buildings and enabling home and building owners to spend utility cost savings elsewhere in the economy.
The residential energy code modifications were based on a compromise developed by a coalition of energy efficiency advocates, home builders, building officials, engineers, and architects. The compromise results in meaningful energy savings while addressing concerns expressed by builders in recent years. Utah Clean Energy and SWEEP were the primary advocates for stronger energy codes and devoted considerable resources to securing passage of HB 202. Governor Gary R. Herbert is expected to sign the bill.
Utah Lawmakers Approve Commercial PACE Policy
Lawmakers recently approved Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation in Utah. Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Senator Kevin Van Tassell, allows cities and counties to provide a long-term, property-based method of financing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to commercial buildings. The bill allows interested cities and counties to sell bonds to raise capital for loans that would be offered to property owners. Interested property owners will participate on a voluntary basis by evaluating and investing in measures to achieve energy savings and receive 100% financing for the project. The loan is then repaid through a property tax assessment for up to 20 years.
SB 221 passed with near unanimity and is supported by groups including the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Utah and the Vest Pocket Business Coalition. The Utah Bankers Association was involved throughout the process to make sure their interests were represented. Utah Clean Energy, SWEEP’s partner in Utah, played a major role in developing and securing passage of SB 221. Governor Gary R. Herbert is expected to sign the bill.
APS Reports Significantly Increased Energy Savings in 2012
Arizona Public Service (APS) reports that its 2012 energy efficiency programs achieved annual energy savings of 499 GWh per year, 25% greater than savings realized from programs implemented in 2011. The savings achieved in 2012 exceeded the utility’s goal as well as the Energy Efficiency Standard adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2010. Energy savings from efficiency programs and measures implemented in 2012 were equivalent to nearly 1.8% of APS’s retail energy sales, placing APS in the top tier of utilities nationwide with respect to this metric. In addition, APS estimates that its customers will realize $204 million in net economic benefits from efficiency programs implemented in 2012. SWEEP applauds APS for its very strong performance implementing energy efficiency programs last year.
SWEEP Issues Case Study on Fort Collins Utilities
Fort Collins Utilities, a municipally-owned utility serving about 66,200 customers in Fort Collins, CO, is a leader with respect to utility energy efficiency programs. SWEEP has published a new report, Energy Efficiency at Fort Collins Utilities: A Role model for Publicly-Owned Utilities, that describes what the utility has done and why, the impacts the programs are having, and other clean energy initiatives the utility and city are taking. It is estimated that households and businesses in Fort Collins will save around $57 million on their electric bills as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented during 2002-2011. Fort Collins Utilities has demonstrated that a small publicly-owned utility can implement highly effective efficiency programs that benefit its customers. SWEEP urges other publicly-owned utilities in Colorado and the region to replicate what Fort Collins Utilities has done.
SWEEP Report Finds That Electricity Will Be Colorado’s Cleanest Vehicle Fuel by 2020
Policies that are transitioning Colorado’s energy supply to renewables and natural gas will make electricity the cleanest fuel by far for automobiles by 2020. These findings come from a new report, Transportation Fuels for Colorado’s Future, that compares the “wells to wheels” energy use and air pollution of vehicles fueled by gasoline, compressed natural gas and electricity. The three different fuels were compared using average fuel-efficient new vehicles purchased in 2013 and the same vehicles operating in 2020 after state clean air and renewable energy policies begin to take effect. The report analyzed energy use and emissions from manufacture to disposal of the automobiles; extraction and processing of the vehicle fuels; and emissions related to driving. While gasoline, electric and CNG vehicles each perform best on certain metrics in 2013, the report shows that, as existing state policies improve the electric grid, the plug-in electric vehicle will quickly accelerate past gasoline and CNG as the cleanest car.
Because the performance of electric cars becomes so much better than gasoline or CNG cars over time, the report recommends that policymakers should focus on investments and policies to increase the penetration of electric vehicles into the light-duty vehicle fleet. Because methane emissions from natural gas wellheads in Colorado aren't well quantified -- the report used conservative estimates -- SWEEP recommends that policymakers better quantify methane emissions and adopt policies to reduce these emissions from natural gas extraction in Colorado.
Will Toor Joins SWEEP as Transportation Program Director
SWEEP is pleased to announce that Will Toor has recently joined the SWEEP team to lead our transportation-related work. Will recently stepped down after eight years as Boulder County Commissioner due to term limits. Prior to serving as a County Commissioner, Will served as Mayor of Boulder and Director of the Environmental Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Will has a great deal of experience working on transportation policy issues, including serving on the Board of the metropolitan planning agency in the Denver metro area (known as DRCOG) for 15 years. Will also served on the Colorado Governor's blue ribbon Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel; co-founded the US 36 Mayors' and Commissioners Coalition which built a consensus for bus rapid transit between Boulder and Denver, now under construction; and has written two books and multiple book chapters on transportation policy.
SWEEP also thanks Bob Yuhnke for his dedication and excellent work leading SWEEP's transportation program for the past four years. Bob and his wife plan to retire to Hawaii in the near future.
Colorado Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Readiness Plan Released
The Colorado Electric Vehicle and Infrastructure Readiness Plan, which was developed over the last year by a broad consortium of stakeholders, provides a comprehensive resource for all parties interested in promoting the use of electric vehicles in Colorado. Highlights of the Plan include an analysis of the market for electric vehicles, an assessment of current barriers to EVs and charging stations, and recommended strategies to overcome these barriers and increase growth in the Colorado EV market.
SWEEP was a major contributor to the Plan, working on elements such as EV penetration rates, the statewide infrastructure plan, charging station costs, potential charging costs, best practices for local governments and developing the assumptions and methodologies underlying the report.