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The Biden Clean Energy and Climate Plan: Partnering with States, Local Governments, and Utilities

President-elect Biden has promised to address the climate crisis as one of his top priorities, and to do so in a way that creates millions of well-paying jobs while advancing environmental justice. The President-elect’s Clean Energy Plan includes some noteworthy national goals including achieving carbon-free power generation and cutting the carbon footprint of our building stock 50 percent by 2035, and constructing 500,000 public charging stations to accelerate the transition to electric... More
 

Arizona regulators poised to expand efficiency targets in clean energy rules

In a decisive 4-1 vote this month, the bipartisan members of the Arizona Corporation Commission heralded a new era for energy efficiency in Arizona, setting new targets utilities must achieve through demand side management programs to help customers save energy and money on their utility bills. The regulators included the policy as part of a broader clean energy rulemaking package that is set for final consideration on Thursday. The package could shape the state’s energy system for years to... More
 

Energy Efficiency Day 2020

SWEEP playing a leading role in achieving success in our states
October 7, 2020 is being commemorated as national Energy Efficiency Day, the fifth annual celebration of the importance of energy efficiency to our nation’s economy and environment. The reasons to celebrate Energy Efficiency Day are simple, clear, and powerful. Through energy efficiency we “Save Money. Cut Pollution. Create Jobs.” Opportunities for greater energy efficiency abound in our homes and workplaces, whether through purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances, using LED lighting, installing... More
 

Energy Efficiency and Equity

Energy Efficiency and Equity
Access to energy for heating, hot water, transportation, and other uses is a necessity of modern life. Nationally, low-income households, on average, devote 7.3% of their income to electricity, natural gas, and other fuels used at home, with some households paying far more. This represents a large percentage of income, a situation known as “energy burden.” In addition, throughout the west, transportation is the second largest expense for low-income households, behind only housing. The number ... More
 

The COVID-19 Crisis, Energy Use, Public Health, and Recovery Efforts

The COVID-19 Crisis, Energy Use, Public Health, and Recovery Efforts
The COVID-19 pandemic is having dramatic impacts on all aspects of our lives. This includes energy use as a result of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the virus. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that countries in full lockdown are experiencing an average 25 percent decline in energy demand while countries in partial lockdown are seeing an 18 percent decline on average. Electricity demand has been depressed by 20 percent or more... More
 

How Building Departments are Pivoting with the COVID-19 Crisis

While still supporting building code enforcement
How Building Departments are Pivoting with the COVID-19 Crisis
The Crisis Unfolds What a difference a few months can make for the construction industry. Just this last January the construction industry was operating at full speed, new residential and commercial buildings were popping up, sales of these new properties were strong, and the employment rate was at historic lows. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, building departments and construction industry confront work-from-home challenges, social distancing and how many people can be in a building or... More
 

Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan Paves the Way toward 100 Percent Clean Vehicles

Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan Paves the Way toward 100 Percent Clean Vehicles
On April 23, the Colorado Energy Office unveiled the new and improved Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan, a guiding document that sets forth the State’s ambitious EV targets and outlines the programs, policies, and strategies required to transition the transportation sector to clean, zero-emission vehicles. Transportation is a leading source of climate-changing pollution in Colorado and vehicles are also a major source of soot and smog pollution that harm public health (and increase the risks... More
 

Building Electrification and National Building Standards Support Each Other

Building Electrification and National Building Standards Support Each Other
Building electrification is the new buzz word for construction in states and cities. For the past 20 years, SWEEP has focused on bringing energy efficiency throughout the Southwest. Over this period, the building efficiency world has changed. If we think back only ten years ago, cities, states, and the building industry were in the throes of a deep recession which started, depending upon who you ask, in the finance and building industry. At that time, the focus to reduce energy consumption was... More
 

Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles

Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum Extols Virtues of Zero Emission Vehicles
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) joined Plug-In America and Clark County to present the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum on Thursday, March 12, 2020. More than 100 key stakeholders gathered to learn about the benefits of transportation electrification and explore public and private sector efforts to accelerate the transition to electric transportation in the Silver State. “Driving on electricity makes sense,” said Tom Polikalas, SWEEP’s Nevada Representative.... More
 

New Mexico Legislative Session Ends with a Thud

Despite Governor's Support EV Bills Fall Short
New Mexico Legislative Session Ends with a Thud
SWEEP is disappointed in the 2020 NM State Legislature’s failure to pass two vital pieces of energy efficiency and clean transportation legislation. Despite full support of the Governor, many lawmakers and low-income advocates, the legislature did not pass either SB114, the Community Energy Efficiency Development (CEED) block grant or SB2/HB217 the Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit. Despite the ultimate failure of these bills, we would like to thank our very strong and supportive sponsors.... More
 

Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream with Super Bowls Ads

Four big automakers spend millions to showcase their new models
Electric Vehicles Go Mainstream with Super Bowls Ads
Super Bowl commercials are famous for creating awareness and buzz about the latest consumer products and services. In fact, the intrigue involving the commercials has become nearly as important as the game itself. So it's significant that four major automakers spent big bucks to signal to consumers that a variety of electric vehicles have arrived in the U.S. marketplace. Audi, Ford, GM, and Porsche spent an average of $5.6 million per 30-second ad to showcase their new models to the 197... More
 

New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD's Purchase of Electric Buses

New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD
Note: A previous edition of this blog used inaccurate data from other sources to calculate the projected fuel cost savings under the new Xcel Commercial EV rate. It has been updated. The electric bus market is booming. As of September, more than 200 transit agencies nationwide had purchased more than 2,000 electric buses. Colorado’s Regional Transit District (RTD) has one of the largest electric bus fleets in the country with 36 all-electric MallRide buses traveling up and down the 16th... More
 

Proposed Arizona Law Could Prevent Municipalities from Adopting Energy and Water-Saving Codes

Arizona cities and counties could lose much of their ability to protect your health and safety when you are inside of a building
Proposed Arizona Law Could Prevent Municipalities from Adopting Energy and Water-Saving Codes
Two bills, which are being fast-tracked through the state legislature, would prevent local leaders from modifying certain kinds of building codes. These codes are designed to establish minimum standards for building safety, durability, efficiency, air-quality, water usage, and more. Under current law, local governments are allowed to establish local building codes based on local needs and values. That’s possible because Arizona’s constitution makes Arizona a “home rule” state, underscoring... More
 

Top Ten Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2019

Top Ten Energy Efficiency Stories from the Southwest in 2019
In 2019, SWEEP and its allies were instrumental in securing approval of numerous new policies that will advance energy efficiency and vehicle electrification in the Southwest. Here is my list of the Top Ten success stories of 2019, in no particular order regarding importance. Colorado Governor Issues EV Executive Order On January 17th, newly elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued and Executive Order supporting vehicle electrification in the state. Among its directives, it... More
 

Energy Efficiency Wins Improvements to the Model Energy Code

Energy Efficiency Wins Improvements to the Model Energy Code
After a 12-month process the newest building energy code, the 2021 IECC, was recently approved by code officials through the online voting phase — by and large, they voted to increase efficiency gains not seen since the 2009 and 2012 energy code. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the model building code for anyone involved in construction of energy efficient, affordable, and healthy homes and commercial buildings. The code is updated every three years through a stakeholder ... More
 

Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Big Benefits for Consumers and the Environment

Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs in the Southwest: Big Benefits for Consumers and the Environment
Consumers in the southwest will realize about $7.6 billion in net economic benefits as a result of energy efficiency programs implemented by the largest electric utilities in the region over the past decade, according to new information compiled by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). As a result of energy efficiency programs implemented over the past decade, these utilities were able to cut their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by nearly 12 million metric tons in 2018. Updated... More
 

Arizona Poised to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption

Arizona Poised to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption
Conversations centered on transportation electrification continue to pick up steam across the Southwest. This is especially true in Arizona since the Arizona Corporation Commission approved two electric vehicle policies in January 2019 and July 2019. Heightened interest in transportation electrification policies is one reason why SWEEP, Plug In America, and Arizona State University’s Energy Policy Innovation Council, recently organized the first annual Arizona Transportation Electrification... More
 

Surge of Interest in "Zero Energy Ready" Homes in Southern Nevada

Surge of Interest in "Zero Energy Ready" Homes in Southern Nevada
Please note: A previous blog post describing this event was a draft and posted before some errors were corrected. On the cusp of Thanksgiving, we extend our thanks to you for your patience and your ongoing support of energy efficiency. Tom Polikalas The "Zero Energy Ready Home" (ZERH) workshop, hosted by Southwest Gas on November 18, 2019 in Las Vegas, drew together a broad cross section of Nevadans to explore cost-effective ways to save energy, benefit Nevada's economy, and improve the... More
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPLUS Program Leaders of the Year Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPLUS Program Leaders of the Year Awards
Congratulations to EPA’s Indoor airPLUS Program 2019 Leader Award winners! Each year only one builder and one rater are selected for these prestigious awards. It is Energy Inspectors, based out of Las Vegas, second consecutive year to be selected. Thrive Home Builders is based out of Denver, CO and it’s the first year they have won this award. The EPA announced and awarded their Leadership awards at the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) High Performance Home Summit on October ... More
 

Southwest States Leading the Nation in Energy Efficiency Job Growth

Southwest States Leading the Nation in Energy Efficiency Job Growth
As SWEEP reported earlier, energy efficiency jobs are booming in the Southwest, growing almost 5% between 2017 and 2018 according to the 2019 U.S Energy and Employment report. Increasing energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves customers money on their energy bills, and provides a significant source of employment. A new report provides more detail on the key role of energy efficiency jobs in the Southwest and highlights the differences among states based on recent policy and ... More
 

Colorado’s Basalt Vista Neighborhood: “A Net Zero Affordable Housing Community”

by Nancy Kellogg
Colorado’s Basalt Vista Neighborhood: “A Net Zero Affordable Housing Community”
The town of Basalt, Colorado had a big problem. The local school district was struggling to attract and retain quality teaching staff due to low wages (30% less than comparable schools) and high local housing costs (30% more). But an innovative solution arose from this difficult situation that has resulted in an incredible community collaboration to build Basalt Vista, an all-electric, net zero, affordable housing community. Roaring Fork Valley (RFV), Habitat for Humanity (H4H), and... More
 

Denver Approves New Energy Efficiency Requirements for Indoor Agriculture/Cannabis Growing Facilities

by Neil Kolwey
Denver Approves New Energy Efficiency Requirements for Indoor Agriculture/Cannabis Growing Facilities
Denver’s cannabis growing facilities (which are mostly indoor grows) account for about 4% of Denver’s total electricity consumption, while producing over 50% of the state’s supply of marijuana. Indoor grows are fairly energy intensive, consuming about ten times as much energy per square foot as a typical Denver office building. There are also many cost-effective opportunities to improve energy productivity (grams of product per unit of energy consumption) including more efficient lighting,... More
 

Electric Trucks and Forklifts – Funding Options in Colorado

by Neil Kolwey and Matt Frommer
Electric Trucks and Forklifts – Funding Options in Colorado
Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular by the day as the technology rapidly matures. The potential benefits over conventional gas-powered vehicles are numerous - they reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants, reduce fuel costs, are easy to maintain, fun to drive, and are quickly becoming cost-competitive with traditional vehicles. For these reasons, many companies and local governments are quickly adding electric vehicles to their fleets. But what about... More
 

A New Model for Energy Codes in Home Rule States

A New Model for Energy Codes in Home Rule States
Most states adopt consistent and standard statewide building codes. But a handful of states – including the southwest states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming – leave code adoption up to each and every local jurisdiction, creating a patchwork of confusing and often-outdated codes. In Colorado, for instance, even though most high-construction areas have up-to-date codes, more than 150 jurisdictions have an energy code from 2009 or earlier, and another 50 jurisdictions have no building... More
 

What a Difference a Few Elections Can Make

What a Difference a Few Elections Can Make
In 2018, new Governors were elected in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Likewise, state legislatures either remained in Democratic control or flipped to Democratic control in all three states. With new leadership, policymakers in these states made energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate action priorities in 2019 legislative sessions. The advances for energy efficiency policy are noteworthy. In Colorado, the state legislature adopted minimum energy- and water-saving standards for 15 ... More
 
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