Press Coverage

June 2019

  • Utility energy-efficiency programs benefit all
    Santa Fe New Mexican - By Howard Geller and Tammy Fiebelkorn - June 8, 2019
    MY VIEW Kenneth Costello (“There’s no free lunch with energy efficiency,” My View, April 20) argues that utilities such as Public Service Company of New Mexico should not spend money to help their customers implement energy-efficiency measures and save energy. But real-world experience demonstrates that although improving energy efficiency isn’t free, it provides benefits that far outweigh the costs. Here are some numbers. PNM and other electric utilities in New Mexico spent about $285 million from 2008-17 on programs to help their customers save energy and reduce peak demand. As a result, households and businesses cut their electricity use by more than 1 billion kilowatt-hours in 2017, savings that are equivalent to the electricity use of 130,000 typical households in the state. Lower electricity use means utility bills are more affordable for hundreds of thousands of New Mexico’s families. Furthermore, energy efficiency programs implemented over the past decade are providing over $400 million in net economic benefits due mainly to utilities avoiding costly capital investments and fuel purchases. In addition, reducing wasteful electricity use means less operation of coal and natural gas-fired power plants. This in turn cuts pollutant emissions, thereby improving public health and reducing the state’s contribution to global warming. Contrary to what Costello claims, the energy savings resulting from utility energy-efficiency programs are not “engineering estimates” subject to large uncertainty. The programs are carefully evaluated by an independent consultant with oversight from the state’s Public Regulation Commission. In its detailed reports, the independent evaluator excludes energy savings by so-called “free riders” — those households and businesses that would adopt energy-efficiency measures in the absence of utility incentive programs. Costello also wrongly claims that utility energy-efficiency programs benefit relatively few customers. When considered over a number of years, the majority of customers participate in one or more utility incentive programs, thereby realizing direct energy savings and reduced utility bills. And all customers benefit when the programs enable utilities to avoid costly investments in new power plants and transmission lines, or reduce air pollutant emissions. Low-income households in particular benefit from utility energy-efficiency programs, as these families cannot afford to make energy-efficiency improvements on their own. Consequently, utilities often pay the full cost for energy-efficiency upgrades in low-income housing. Put simply, it costs less to save energy from energy-efficiency programs that it does to supply energy from any type of new power source — whether wind power, solar power or gas-fired power plants. The environmental benefits are “icing on the cake.” This is why policymakers in New Mexico and elsewhere direct utilities to implement energy-efficiency programs for their customers, and why utility regulators approve them. House Bill 291, approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, provides the foundation for comprehensive utility energy-efficiency programs for the next decade. Based on past experience, including rigorous program evaluation, consumers and the environment will come out ahead. The Legislature and governor deserve praise for their foresight. Howard Geller is the executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. Tammy Fiebelkorn is the New Mexico representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. SWEEP is a nonprofit, public interest organization.
  • Codes Requiring EV in Commercial Help Grid
    Codewatcher - June 7, 2019
    SWEEP's senior transportation associate Matt Frommer quoted: "The commercial International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) committee approved codes proposed by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and other groups. The codes require new commercial and high-rise residential buildings to provide for low-cost and easy installation of EV charging, said Matthew Frommer, senior transportation associate for SWEEP."
  • Can These Electric Vehicle Codes Lead to Grid Benefits?
    Microgrid Knowledge - by Lisa Cohn - June 7, 2019
    SWEEP's senior transportation associate Matt Frommer is quoted extensively in this article about the new ICC code requirement for new commercial buildings to come equipped with charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. “EVs result in fewer emissions and cleaner air for everyone, particularly a lot of these counties in non-attainment areas, with ground-level ozone and other pollutants. EVs are a great tool to clean up our air,” said Frommer.
  • New Clean Energy Laws for Nevada
    KTVN 2 News Nevada - Chris Buckley - June 4, 2019
    SWEEP's Nevada Representative is quoted in this article about new clean energy laws in the state: "We're going to start tracking carbon emissions; this is a very innovative bill simply to measure," said Tom Polikalas of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. "When we start measuring what Nevada is putting out, then we can start finding cost effective ways to reduce carbon emissions, and that's the key. We're going to be able to create jobs - that find ways that pay for themselves - that will not only reduce carbon emissions, but lower costs to consumers. That's something we'll move forward with in 2021. What we've done in the 2019 session is set a framework to put Nevada at the forefront across the board in clean energy technology."

May 2019

  • Colorado wants to spark move to electric vehicles in a big way — with buses, trucks, fleets
    Denver Post - Judith Kohler - May 31, 2019
    SWEEP's senior transportation associate Matt Frommer is quoted in the article: "As more and more of the electricity on the grid comes from renewable sources, the benefits of driving electric vehicles will increase, said Matt Frommer, senior transportation associate at the Boulder-based Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. And Xcel Energy-Colorado has proposed a change that would better accommodate businesses that have to charge large electric vehicles. RTD recently reported that it costs more to operate its electric buses on Denver’s 16th Street Mall than diesel buses due to Xcel Energy’s “demand charge.” The charge is a price tier typically added to commercial and industrial customers’ bills to recover a utility’s capital costs of building a system that can provide enough power to meet peak demand when needed. The proposal Xcel Energy filed May 24 with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission would allow businesses or transit agencies to time the charging in a way that will lower costs. “That definitely strengthens the economic argument for electric vehicles,” Frommer said."
  • Electric bus plan is now a law, but is there money to make it go?
    Nevada Current - Jeniffer Solis - May 31, 2019
    SWEEP staffers Matt Frommer and Tom Polikalas quoted extensively in this article about recent electric school bus bill signed by Gov. Sisolak in Nevada: “If you’re not going to build a plug that any electric vehicle can use you shouldn’t be eligible for ratepayer funding,” said Matt Frommer, senior transportation associate at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, which focuses clean transportation policy and advocacy. A dearth in charging stations in Nevada make EVID funds competitive, “There is a fair amount of competition but it is good that there is a fair amount of money left,” Frommer said. “To be honest $15 million isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things,” Frommer said.”That’s why we’d like to see a pilot program launched in 2019 and as soon as possible.” Funding for electric school buses is not part of the current annual plan for EVID funds but now that a bill has been passed advocates are hopeful the funds will be set aside and invested in electric school buses. “They have direction from the state to launch this investment in electric school buses. So there’s no reason they couldn’t start the program this year,” Frommer said. The EVID program is a three-year program and will likely end in 2021, making funding the electric school buses a race against time and potentially dwindling funds. “The next step is to have advocacy groups reach out to school districts to work with the utility and try to get projects underway quickly,” said Tom Polikalas a Nevada Representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We are highly motivated to see these electric school buses put into place as quick as possible.”
  • Polis signs suite of climate, energy bills
    Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - Dennis Webb - May 31, 2019
    "On Friday, he’s scheduled to sign bills extending state income tax credits for purchase or lease of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids through 2025, and requiring regulated electric utilities to develop and implement plans for investment in electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project said in a news release."
  • DOE Lightbulb Rollbacks Spark State Action
    E&E News - May 28, 2019
    SWEEP's executive director is quoted in this story about the Governor of Nevada signing a bill into law that maintains strong lamp efficiency standards should the federal government try to rollback those standards: "Howard Geller, the executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, which helped formulate the bills in Colorado and Nevada, said it received large bipartisan support because unlike at the federal level, lightbulb manufacturers did not get involved in the process." "Most legislators are pragmatists and accept the fact that this would benefit consumers," he said, adding that as more states move to pass these standards, the manufacturers will soon be forced to comply with the stricter standards.
  • New Mexico adopts energy efficiency regulations
    Choose Energy - May 25, 2019
    SWEEP's New Mexico Representative is quoted in the article, stating: "Energy efficiency campaigners are also upbeat about the new measures. “It’s not fair to ask [utilities] to sell less of their product,” explains the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project’s Tammy Fiebelkorn. ”So this decoupling mechanism will make them pretty much indifferent to whether they sell more energy or not. They’ll still get all their costs recovered.”
  • Nevada Governor Sisolak signs bill that would fund electric school buses
    KSNV News 3 - Las Vegas, NV - May 23, 2019
    SWEEP staffer Tom Polikalas is quoted: “Electric buses are a great way to get kids to school,” said Tom Polikalas, Nevada Representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “They save school districts money, so more of our education dollars can go towards teachers instead of polluting and expensive diesel fuel. Thanks to Governor Sisolak, bill sponsors Senator Brooks and Senator Spearman, and the Nevada legislature for charging ahead with SB299."
  • Reaction to state legislature’s work on energy runs gamut
    Denver Post - May 19, 2019
    Howard Geller of SWEEP quoted: “Energy efficiency has helped us to eliminate the growth in electricity use in the state even though our population is growing and our economy is growing,” said Howard Geller, executive director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “Leveling off our overall energy use makes it much easier to transition away from fossil fuels.” And it’s not just a matter of phasing out coal and natural gas power plants with wind farms and solar arrays. The number of vehicles and the miles driven are on the rise, Geller said. “There’s more work to do there.” See the full article by Judith Kohler at the Denver Post.
  • Energy efficiency is not a free lunch; it’s a smorgasbord
    Santa Fe New Mexican - May 18, 2019
    An opinion article written by Claire Fulenwider, Ph.D., a former executive director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, quotes SWEEP research: "SWEEP, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, estimated that households and businesses in the Southwest between 2005 and 2017 saved more than $7 billion as a result of utility energy efficiency programs, and power plant carbon emissions were cut by over 80 million metric tons. Any way you look at it, those are big numbers. And these savings continue into the future. The effects of efficiency programs are big and they are real."
  • SWEEP Promotes Electric Vehicles
    Denver Post - May 15, 2019
    Travis Madsen of SWEEP quoted in this article: “We hope Xcel will do something similar for commercial EV charging in Colorado, to help RTD and transit fleets all across the state capture the benefits of electrification and deliver better service at lower cost for their constituents,” said Travis Madsen, transportation project director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. See the Denver Post for the full article.
  • Marijuana Prices Have Collapsed, Forcing Growers to Focus on Energy Efficiency
    Utility Dive - May 1, 2019
    Efficiency experts say the biggest opportunities to reduce energy use in the cannabis sector are in the design phase of a new grow operation. As marijuana becomes more mainstream, an increasing number of utilities are seeing growers set up shop in their service territories — at times creating distribution system issues, and in general bringing significant new demand.

April 2019

  • New law boosts energy-efficiency mandates
    Albuquerque Journal - April 18, 2019
    New Mexico’s electric consumption could drop markedly over the next decade thanks to new energy-efficiency mandates approved by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. House Bill 291, which the Legislature passed this year and the governor signed into law on April 3, requires the state’s three public utilities to achieve 5 percent savings off 2020 retail sales by 2025, followed by higher savings targets that the state Public Regulation Commission will set through 2030. It also authorizes up to a 66 percent increase in utility spending on energy-efficiency programs.
  • The 2018 IECC is Fair to the Solar Industry
    ICC - Building Safety Journal - April 11, 2019
    As state and local officials tackle building energy code issues in 2019, they likely will hear discussions about how solar photovoltaic (PV) power should fit into the energy code, and if solar energy can “trade off” for energy efficiency. Some interest groups want policymakers to weaken the efficiency requirements for new homes if the houses also have solar energy, but those requests fail to understand three things. Read the full article.
  • New Mexico Efficiency Bill Ensures Utilities Don't Take Hit From Lower Energy Use
    Utility Dive - April 10, 2019
    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D, signed a bill on Thursday to establish decoupling, which aims to remove the disincentive for utilities to conserve energy, as well as boost energy efficiency funding 67%. The New Mexico law is another addition to the state's growing clean energy programming.

March 2019

  • Legislation Amended To Help Consumers Save Energy and Money?
    ThisisReno - March 22, 2019
    The Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (NGOE) has introduced an important amendment to Assembly Bill 54, to ensure that the Silver State maintains a high level of energy efficiency for light bulbs sold in Nevada.
  • The IECC Is a Life Safety Code: Make It the Law
    CodeWatcher - March 12, 2019
    This first blog in a series on the IECC explains why America’s Model Energy Code may be getting a bad rap and what the industry needs to do to see it adopted as law in more municipalities around the nation.
  • 7 Tips to Reduce Your Energy costs
    Cannabis Business Times - March 11, 2019
    The total energy costs for average indoor cannabis grow operations account for 20 percent to 40 percent of total operating costs. By comparison, for a typical medium-size or larger brewery, energy use accounts for about 6 percent to 12 percent of total operating costs. Because energy makes up a large portion of cannabis operating costs, efforts to reduce energy consumption can have a significant effect on a grow operation’s profit margin, as well as the business’s overall competitiveness. Many states with legalized cannabis markets also have their own energy-efficiency goals, making those state governments interested in working with the cannabis industry to reduce energy consumption. Also, many utilities have programs to help cannabis cultivators reduce their energy consumption. This article outlines pointers to gain control over your energy costs and pad your bottom line.

February 2019

  • New Study Finds Electric Vehicles Could Help Nevada Economy in Multiple Ways
    Channel 2 News Reno, Nevada - February 1, 2019
    The station ran this story covering electric cars and the Nevada economy interviewing Matt Frommer, Senior Transportation Associate at SWEEP, about the growing popularity of EVs and the gas and maintenance cost savings realized by EV owners. Also noted is the increasing affordability given available tax credits and the lower cost of lithium ion batteries. This broadcast preceded today’s Nevada Electric Transportation Forum being held in Reno from 8:00 am 1:30 pm PST. To watch the livestream event go to the SWEEP Events page and follow the link.

January 2019

  • The 2018 IECC is Fair to the Solar Industry
    Code Watcher - January 16, 2019
    The online publication picked up the blog from SWEEP's Jim Meyers. "Solar energy and efficiency are not the same thing, and cannot be traded off one-for-one. There are technical reasons why a house with solar PV needs different insulation levels than a house without it. The latest model energy code, the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), was widely developed, agreed to, and supported by the homebuilders, the solar industry, and local building officials in a lengthy and inclusive process. The IECC works as a kind of clean energy ecosystem, where changing just one small item can unbalance the rest of the system."
  • Environmentalists are demanding aggressive action on climate change. How far will Colorado Democrats go?
    Colorado Sun - January 2, 2019
    Climate change is emerging as the top legislative priority on the political left, where environmental advocates and Democratic lawmakers are hoping to turn Colorado’s blue wave into a green one. So while low prices of clean energy have gotten most of the credit for reducing Colorado’s electrical emissions, gains in energy efficiency have been the bigger driver of emission reductions since 2008, according to SWEEP’s analysis of energy usage data.