Regional News Briefs

February

Colorado Energy Director Will Toor to Drive Push Toward Renewables, Electric Vehicles - Denver Post

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).