Regional News Briefs

June

Arizona Utilities’ Energy Savings Programs Cost the Companies Half the National Average, Says New National Study

Arizona’s utilities achieved energy efficiency savings at about half the national average cost, says a new federal report. Electric utilities in Arizona implemented energy efficiency programs at a utility cost of only 1.3 cents per kWh saved, according to a new study issued on June 20, 2018 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The LBNL study examined utility energy efficiency programs implemented in 41 states during 2009-15. Considering all 41 states, the average utility cost was 2.5 cents per kWh saved.

The energy efficiency programs of Arizona’s utilities were the second lowest in terms of cost of energy savings, behind only the utilities in Wisconsin, which had a cost of 1.0 cents per kWh saved. The LBNL study also shows that the utility programs in Arizona achieved above-average energy savings, while keeping costs very low.

“This objective national study demonstrates that Arizona’s electric utilities have implemented highly cost-effective energy efficiency programs,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP).  “Considering the cost to the utilities and their customers, these programs compare very favorably with those implemented by utilities in other states.”

The LBNL study, titled “The Cost of Saving Electricity Through Energy Efficiency Programs Funded by Utility Customers: 2009-2015,” was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

CO to Adopt Clean Car Standards, Aims to Curb Climate Change Pollution and Save Consumers Money

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released an Executive Order on June 19th directing state agencies to initiate a rulemaking at the state Air Quality Control Commission, an action that would have Colorado join California and 12 other states in adopting clean car standards. This comes as the Trump Administration has proposed to weaken existing federal standards. Analysis conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund found that adoption of these standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado by over 2 million tons per year by 2030 and 4 million tons per year by 2040, while saving consumers an average of $3,000 per vehicle in reduced fuel costs.

Multiple stakeholders have sent letters urging the state to adopt such standards, including the Regional Air Quality Council, county public health departments, and local elected officials from across the state.

SWEEP, which also has urged the state to adopt clean car standards to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, congratulates Governor Hickenlooper on this step forward. SWEEP also urges other governors across the country to adopt clean car standards to ensure that their residents will benefit from fuel cost savings and cleaner air even if the Trump administration weakens federal standards.

 

NV Energy Seeks to Expand Energy Savings

NV Energy has filed a new three-year demand-side management (DSM) plan in conjunction with a new Integrated Resource Plan. The new DSM plan calls for the utility to spend $197 million on electric DSM programs during 2019-21, approximately 30 percent more than the utility spent during 2015-17.

The plan is designed to save approximately 344 million kilowatt-hours from energy efficiency programs implemented annually during 2019-21. The annual energy savings targets are equivalent to 1.15 percent of NV Energy’s retail electricity sales. This is significant bump up from savings levels achieved by the utility in recent years.

The DSM plan is very cost effective with a projected benefit-cost ratio of 2.15 under the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test. NV Energy estimates that implementing the three-year DSM plan will result in $296 million in net economic benefits for its customers. In addition, the new DSM plan is projected to save 464 million gallons of water and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.3 million tons over the lifetime of the energy efficiency measures installed during 2019-2021. 

The new DSM plan includes restarting residential lighting and pool pump efficiency programs, cost-effective programs previously eliminated by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN). The plan also includes a new energy efficiency program targeted to low-income households, as well as expansion of business efficiency programs.

Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), welcomed the plan's emphasis on energy efficiency. "This plan includes a significant expansion of energy efficiency programs. And while we can always do more to save electricity, this plan charts a course toward lower energy use and greater cost savings for families and businesses," Geller said.

SWEEP assisted NV Energy as it prepared the new DSM plan, and will participate in the PUCN proceeding in which the plan will be reviewed and approved. NV Energy is the sole investor-owned electric utility serving nearly 1.3 million customers in Nevada.

 

Energy Savings Goals Increased for Xcel Energy – Colorado

On June 6, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued its written decision concerning future energy savings goals and other policies governing Xcel Energy’s demand-side management (DSM) programs in Colorado. The PUC approved an energy savings goal of 500 GWh per year for Xcel Energy during 2019-23, equal to saving about 1.6 percent of Xcel’s projected electricity sales each year during this period. The new energy savings goal is 25 percent higher than the goal in effect during 2015-18.

In addition, the PUC has strengthened the performance incentive mechanism that rewards Xcel Energy for meeting or exceeding the energy savings goals, supported geo-targeted DSM efforts on constrained distribution system feeders, and increased the non-energy benefits adders used in DSM program cost effectiveness analysis. These new policies were issued as part of what is known as a DSM Strategic Issues proceeding.

An appeal process is allowed following the issuance of the written decision. The performance incentive mechanism is expected to be the main issue questioned during appeal. The higher energy savings goal, which was originally proposed by SWEEP, is not likely to be challenged or modified. Once the proceeding is closed, Xcel Energy will submit its 2019-20 DSM plan for PUC approval.

Xcel Energy is the largest electric utility in Colorado serving over 1.4 million customers. 

 

Arizona's Plan for Using VW Settlement Funds Disappointing

On June 8, the Arizona Department of Administration released the state plan for spending approximately $56.5 million in funds from the settlement of the VW emissions cheating scandal. Under the settlement rules, Arizona could have chosen to allocate about $8 million to electric vehicle charging, and could invest funds in zero emission electric school buses. Unfortunately, instead the plan invests all of the funds in simply buying new diesel vehicles, which do not move the state towards zero emissions, do not help the state comply with its obligations to electrify highway corridors under the REV West MOU, and provide no long-term reductions in emissions.

This plan was developed with no public meetings, and no opportunities for feedback or review of plan drafts.

SWEEP calls on Governor Ducey to modify the state plan to allow a true public review process and support zero emission vehicles.

May

Rocky Mountain Power Achieved Greater Energy Savings in 2018

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) reports that its 2017 energy efficiency programs helped its Utah customers save 344 million kWh per year, equivalent to the electricity use of about 39,000 typical households in the state. The energy savings were 11 percent greater than the savings achieved through the utility’s programs in 2016. Savings increased for both residential and commercial sector energy efficiency programs. In addition, the company’s 2017 load management programs enabled RMP to reduce peak demand by 121 MW. RMP estimates that its 2017 programs had a benefit-cost ratio of 2.18 and will result in over $150 million in net economic benefits for the households and businesses it serves.

RMP, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, provides electricity to about 875,000 customers in Utah.

 

Energy Efficiency Jobs Climb in the Southwest

Check out Howard Geller's new blog about how energy efficiency employs more workers  in the Southwest than even fossil fuels production does. 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. 

 

 

SWEEP Explains Why Car Makers Don't Offer More Electric Vehicles in CO and What to Do About It

Subaru plans to offer its first plug-in hybrid powertrain on its Crosstrek -- but won't sell the cars in Colorado. In today's edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette, SWEEP's Will Toor explains what Colorado must do to encourage Subaru and other car makers to offer electric vehicles in our state.

"Despite the fact that Colorado has some of the strongest consumer demand for electric vehicles, most car manufacturers don't sell all their electric models here," Toor said. "States that have adopted zero emission standard get up to three times as many models. The new plug-in hybrid Subaru Crosstrek is a great example. What could suit the Colorado lifestyle more than an all-wheel-drive electric vehicle? But Subaru is only planning to release it in the ZEV states. Colorado needs to take action to increase model availability."

 

SWEEP Explains Why NV’s New EV Charging Rules Help Consumers and Clean Air

Check out today’s news story from the Nevada Independent regarding the decision by the Public Utility Commission of Nevada’s decision to let NV Energy play a central role in building electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. SWEEP’s Will Toor called the EV charging stations a public good and noted that electric vehicles lower greenhouse emissions and could even reduce rates over time by helping the utility better balance demand for power with its supply.

 

Colorado Lawmakers Should Nurture the Electric Vehicle Market, Not Punish It

Check out the latest op-ed by SWEEP's Will Toor about why electric vehicles benefit all Coloradans, not just people who drive them. "Widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will bring tremendous benefits to Colorado.  They help our air quality, are good for consumers, and are good for the economy as a whole. If we want to achieve all the benefits that EVs bring, we need to get a lot more on the road."

 

April

Colorado Takes Major Step Forward on Implementing State Electric Vehicle Plan

On April 10, the Colorado Energy Office released a request for applications, inviting private-sector partners to build fast-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) along most major highway corridors in Colorado, including: I-25, I-70, U.S. 36, U.S. 40, U.S. 50, U.S. 160, U.S. 285, and U.S. 550.

The state is investing approximately $10 million in this program, using federal transportation funds and money from the settlement of the VW emissions testing scandal. The plan will add 33, direct-current, fast-charging locations, with 50 to 70 miles between stations. Each fast-charger will be capable of delivering 150 kilowatts to a single vehicle, recharging the battery to full capacity in approximately 20 minutes. 

The Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan, which sets a goal of nearly a million EVs on the road by 2030, identified a need for fast charging along corridors to give consumers confidence that they can get where they need to go with an electric vehicle. The plan also meets the state's commitment to "electrify" interstate highways as part of the eight-state REV West Memorandum of Understanding.

SWEEP advocated for investing VW funds and federal transportation funds on EV charging, and conducted a study on the business case for fast charging that informed the process. SWEEP congratulates the state of Colorado for this ambitious step forward on transportation electrification.

 

SWEEP Congratulates 2018 ENERGY STAR Award Winners in the Southwest

In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) recognized 163 ENERGY STAR partner organizations for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency. SWEEP congratulates the nine award winners with operations based in the Southwest region.

Six organizations in our region were honored in the category of "Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence" in three award categories for their exceptional leadership year after year in the ENERGY STAR program while remaining dedicated to environmental protection through energy efficiency:

  • Energy Inspectors Corporation (Las Vegas, NV—Home Energy Rater)
  • EnergyLogic, Inc. (Berthoud, CO—Home Energy Rater)
  • Fulton Homes (Tempe, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver (Denver, CO—New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Meritage Homes Corporation (Scottsdale, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)
  • Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (Tempe, AZ—Energy Efficiency Program Delivery).

Two organizations were honored as "Partner of the Year:”

  • Ideal Energy (Phoenix, AZ—Home Performance with ENERGY STAR)
  • Mandalay Homes (Prescott, AZ – New Home Builder and Affordable Housing)

In addition, AZ Energy Efficient Home (Phoenix, AZ) was awarded Contractor of the Year with Sustained Excellence, an honor given to Home Performance with ENERGY STAR participating contractors who exhibit outstanding professionalism, build strong customer relationships, and apply building science solutions to improve homes.

Since it started in 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped save American families and businesses more than $450 billion and over 3.5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity while also achieving broad emissions reductions—all through voluntary action.  ENERGY STAR successfully promoted energy efficiency in appliances, home building, and 31 business sectors from local bakeries to steel mills—including 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. Some 90 percent of Americans recognize its blue-and-white logo, making it one of the most recognizable symbols in U.S. marketing today--a sign that encouraged consumers to buy $100 million in energy-efficient products in 2016 alone.

 

Xcel Energy Achieves Record Energy Savings in 2017

Xcel Energy reports it achieved 415 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year of electricity savings and 97 megawatts (MW) of peak load reduction at the generator level from demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in Colorado in 2017. These were the highest levels of annual energy savings and peak load reduction since Xcel Energy began implementing comprehensive programs to help its customers save energy and reduce peak load in 2009. The electricity savings were equal to 1.3 percent of the utility’s retail electricity sales on a net savings basis, surpassing the savings goal established by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Xcel Energy also estimates that its 2017 electric DSM programs will provide $102 million in net economic benefits over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures installed last year. In addition, Xcel Energy projects that its DSM programs will cut the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 4.6 million tons over the lifetime of the energy savings measures installed in 2017.

Xcel Energy is the largest electric and gas utility in Colorado serving over 1.4 million customers.

 

March

News Media Explain CO EV Plan, Quote SWEEP

What did the Denver Business Journal say about Colorado's finalized plan to boost electric vehicles and create a network of charging stations along major highways? And what did SWEEP's Will Toor tell the Journal?

 

Three Great News Stories About Southwest Energy Efficiency: Money, EVs and NM Plan

SWEEP today can report three great news stories about energy efficiency in our region.

First, the new federal budget that Congress passed, and President Trump signed, spared key U.S. Department of Energy efficiency programs from the ax. SWEEP provides more information and budget numbers. 

Second, Colorado finalized its bold plans for using money from the VW emissions cheating settlement fund to encourage electric vehicle adoption, including the development of electric charging stations along the state's major highways.

Third, New Mexico has begun implementation of its Energy Roadmap, which includes energy efficiency.

 

Implementation of New Mexico’s Energy Roadmap Underway

Stakeholders in energy efficiency, clean energy, and related areas have begun discussing the first steps in implementing New Mexico’s Energy Roadmap goals and strategies. The Energy Roadmap, completed in December, is a statewide energy project that is intended to strengthen and diversify a New Mexico energy economy that is resilient to global changes.

Energy stakeholders, representing a broad range of more than 50 public and private entities, met last year and developed the Energy Roadmap with 15 goals aimed at improving energy diversification and efficiency. Those goals include overall improvements to energy efficiency in New Mexico, installation of electric vehicle charging stations along major corridors throughout the state, and improving education and job training to better prepare New Mexicans seeking jobs in the energy sector.

Key energy efficiency strategies in the roadmap include:

  • updating the state’s energy conservation building codes,
  • updating the Efficient Use of Energy Act,
  • improving the efficiency of state buildings,
  • increasing the use of public-private partnerships to spur energy efficiency investments,
  • and undertaking a statewide public awareness campaign about the benefits of energy efficiency.

The Energy Roadmap was funded through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, including funds for aggressively implementing key, time-critical goals and strategies aimed at practices, policies, or laws that are either expiring or are woefully obsolete.

 

SWEEP Welcomes Two New Staffers

SWEEP is pleased to announce that two new staff members have joined SWEEP’s Utility and Transportation Programs.

Justin Brant is a new Senior Associate in SWEEP’s Utility Program, where his duties include research on utility energy efficiency policy and programs, participating in public utility commission proceedings, and collaborating with utilities, business and consumer groups, and other stakeholders. Before joining SWEEP, he worked at The Cadmus Group, a nationwide energy and environmental consulting firm. Earlier, he was Assistant Director of the Electric Power Division at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

Matt Frommer is a new Senior Associate in SWEEP’s Transportation Program, where he focuses on electric vehicle policy and EV-grid integration. Matt received a Master of Environmental Science in Sustainable Planning and Management from the University of Colorado in 2017, where he also completed a capstone project with Rocky Mountain Institute’s Mobility Transportation team. Earlier, he worked as an architect and city planner, specializing in urban mixed-used and residential projects both in the United States and internationally. 

 

Trade Press Reports on ACC's Decision Re: IRPs of Investor-Owned Utilities

What did leading industry news media say about the Arizona Corporations Commission’s decision re: TEP, APS & UNSE integrated resource plans?

February

Settlement Agreement Reached in Xcel Energy DSM Strategic Issues Docket

On February 26th, a Comprehensive Settlement Agreement was submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by most of the parties participating in the Demand-Side Management (DSM) Strategic Issues docket concerning Xcel Energy. This docket establishes energy savings and peak demand reduction goals, financial incentives for the utility, and other key policies affecting Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency and demand response programs. The Settlement Agreement recommends continuing the current energy savings goal of 400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year for an additional five years (2019-2023). The Settlement Agreement also proposes new performance-based financial incentives that would reward Xcel Energy for exceeding the energy savings goal and penalize the utility if it fails to reach the goal.

SWEEP played a prominent role in negotiating the Settlement Agreement with Xcel Energy, the Staff of the Colorado PUC, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders. While representing a compromise on some issues, SWEEP fully supports the Agreement and urges the Colorado PUC to approve it. In particular, the Settlement Agreement contains higher energy savings goals than those initially proposed by Xcel Energy, Staff of the PUC and the Office of Consumer Counsel. The PUC will review the Settlement Agreement and make its decision in the docket in the next few months.

Xcel Energy is the main electric and gas utility in Colorado serving about 1.4 million customers. In a recent ACEEE Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Xcel Energy Colorado was tied for 10th place in the ranking of energy efficiency policies and programs for the 51 largest electric utilities in the nation.

 

Electric Transportation Forum

Check out the KTVN-Channel 2 news story about SWEEP's recent NV electric forum, including a snowstorm interview with SWEEP's Will Toor and a calmer but still outdoor discussion with state Sen. Patricia Spearman, who sponsored important energy efficiency legislation last year. The one-minute newscast also describes the value of the eight-state (including NV) agreement to create charging stations along 7,000 miles of interstate highways.

 

 

SWEEP Study Shows How Boulder County, CO, Can Encourage Electric Car Use

SWEEP has just published a new study done for Boulder County, “Electrifying Transportation: Boulder County’s Clean Future.”  The report focuses on how the County can advance electric vehicle adoption in the county fleet, by employees, and by County residents.


SWEEP’s study identified top County government locations where charging stations should be installed to support adoption of EVs by both its fleet and its employees, and analyzed the costs and benefits of charging infrastructure and electric vehicles.  It also outlined a number of actions the County could take to accelerate EV adoption in the general population.

January

Nevada PUC Proposes Rules for Utility EV Plans

On January 22, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) issued proposed regulations on the implementation of Nevada Senate Bill 145, which in part required NV Energy to develop a plan to support transportation electrification.

Highlights from the regulations include:

  • Allocating $15 million towards incentives for electric vehicle charging stations;
  • Requiring NV Energy to prioritize fast charging along highways, as well as the conversion of buses and other heavy-duty vehicles to electric vehicles;
  • Allowing NV Energy to own and operate fast-charging stations along highways, with the potential to own and operate stations in other areas (such as apartments) where there is a demonstrated need.

SWEEP submitted joint comments with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and Western Resources Advocates during the development of the regulations, and looks forward to working with the PUCN and NV Energy on the development of an EV Plan. SWEEP also supported passage of SB 145.

Read NV SB 145 here.

 

Colorado Details Bold Goals for Encouraging Electric Vehicle Purchases and Use

Colorado released details on its bold goals for encouraging electric vehicle purchases and use in the state, as part of a broader effort to reduce air pollution including greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement came after months of gathering public comments and ideas.

On January 24, 2018, in Denver, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released the final version, and details, about the state’s first Electric Vehicle (EV) Plan. The plan lays out ambitious goals around EV adoption and charging station deployment, and articulates strategies to meet each goal.

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. This shift would save Colorado consumers over $500 million per year in fuel costs. It also would also drive down electricity rates, saving utility customers an estimated $50 million per year.

Other goals outlined in the plan include:

  • Coordinate efforts with other Mountain West states to make regional travel with an EV convenient;
  • Develop partnerships with electric utilities to support deployment and greater utilization of fast chargers;
  • Go from 36 electric transit vehicles in 2017 to 500 by 2030; and
  • More than triple the number of EVs in the state fleet by 2020.

SWEEP provided input during the development of the plan, and looks forward to working with the state on the policies, programs and investments that will be needed to achieve these goals.

 

Great Op-ed - Why Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Could Hurt Thousands of CO Energy Jobs

Colorado Politics/ Colorado Statesman today published a great op-ed from our partner group, the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition: 

Proposed federal budget cuts endanger thousands of well-paying clean energy jobs in Colorado. Colorado’s diverse energy sector includes more than 30,000 jobs involving energy efficiency, more than any other part of the energy sector (more than solar and wind, oil, natural gas, or coal), according to a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Yet the Trump administration and the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed devastating cuts (more than 40 percent in the House budget, 75 percent cuts in the administration’s budget) to these energy efficiency programs that benefit Colorado in the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

SWEEP helped in researching and placing the opinion piece.

 

Two Great News Stories on Electric Cars Feature SWEEP

Two recent, in-depth stories about growing interest in clean, electric vehicles featured SWEEP's transportation experts. Find out more: