Regional News Briefs
Groups Urge Biden to Use Existing Authorities to Cut Energy Waste, Carbon from Buildings
On November 23, in a letter to the incoming Biden administration, 27 organizations — including energy efficiency advocates, business associations, and environmental and consumer groups — stressed the importance of energy efficiency measures so that federal agencies can use their authority under existing laws to create jobs, reduce consumers’ utility bills, and mitigate climate change by reducing energy waste from homes and buildings. Energy use in homes and commercial buildings is responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, as well as more than $400 billion in energy bills each year.
The agenda in the letter embraces and expands on proposals published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). The groups call for the Biden administration to:
Ensure new federally assisted housing is efficient. About half of home loans are supported by federally regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, yet they currently lack any protections to prevent inefficient housing with significant energy waste and high utility bills.
Set a strong energy efficiency standard for manufactured homes. More than 100,000 manufactured homes are shipped each year. Most occupants have low incomes, and many are burdened by high energy bills, in part because federal efficiency standards for these homes have not been updated since 1994.
Issue an executive order to improve the efficiency of federal buildings. The federal government should be a leader on deep energy and water efficiency retrofits of existing building and constructing zero-net-energy and zero-carbon buildings. But progress has stagnated in recent years, and President Trump eliminated targets for annual improvement in the efficiency of these buildings.
Revive appliance efficiency standards. Appliance standards are the most important federal energy and climate program for buildings. Updating standards could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 to 3 billion tons by 2050.
Strengthen agency work to drive energy efficiency. Accomplishing the above will require quickly filling vacancies in understaffed agencies, especially the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. And federal efforts to help deploy new technologies need new focus and support.
Read the full letter.
The letter to President-elect Biden was signed by Advanced Energy Economy, Alliance to Save Energy, ACEEE, American Institute of Architects, Building Performance Association, California Efficiency + Demand Management Council, Ceres, Consumer Federation of America, DesignLights Consortium, E4TheFuture, Energy Efficiency Alliance, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Institute for Market Transformation, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients, Natural Resources Defense Council, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Green Building Council, and VEIC.
Nevada Finalizes Lamp Efficiency Standards
The state of Nevada has taken the final step to put in place an energy efficiency regulation that prohibits the sale of inefficient lamps in the state as of January 1, 2021. The regulation prohibits the sale of lamps with an efficacy below 45 lumens per watt, meaning it will be illegal to sell incandescent and halogen incandescent lamps in the state after this date. The regulation applies to general service lamps as well as reflector lamps. Federal law permits Nevada along with California to adopt their own energy efficiency standards on general service lamps. SWEEP actively supported the law that Nevada passed calling for this regulation.
Salt River Project Outperforms FY 2020 Energy Efficiency Goals
Arizona’s Salt River Project (SRP) reported that it saved 2.09% annual energy savings as a percent of retail sales during its 2020 fiscal year, surpassing its goal of 2.0%. In 2020 alone, SRP delivered more than 640 GWh through its energy efficiency programs, exceeding its planned savings by 4%.
This year marks the end of SRP’s decade-long goal (called its “Sustainable Portfolio Principles”) in which it strived to meet 20% of its retail energy requirements through sustainable sources by 2020. Through SRP’s investment in energy efficiency, the utility surpassed its goal and achieved sustainable resources equivalent to 24.3% of its retail energy requirements. At 11.06%, energy efficiency represents the largest contributor to SRP’s sustainable portfolio.
In 2020, SRP’s highest performing efficiency programs included:
The Standard Business Solutions program, which provides rebates and services for the installation of high-efficiency equipment and delivered more than 1, 247,622 MWhs in annual aggregate energy savings and 223.79 MW in reduced load.
Its portfolio of residential energy efficiency programs, including its ENERGY STAR Homes, Cool Cash Rebates, Duct Test and Repair, Screen Shade Rebates, and Smart Thermostat programs, which delivered more than 460,000 MWhs in savings.
SRP also expanded its demand response programs to deliver 59.2 MW of capacity, compared with 40 MW previously.
Last year, SRP renewed its commitment to energy efficiency and demand response investment by establishing new grid modernization standards for both resources over the next 15 years. Specifically, by 2035, SRP has committed to:
Deliver over 3 million megawatt-hours of annual aggregate energy savings.
Deliver at least 300 megawatts of dispatchable demand response and load management.
Support the enablement of 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in its service territory and manage the charging of 90% of those vehicles
Expand its portfolio of electric technology (non-EVs) programs to deliver 300,000 megawatt-hours of annual aggregate energy impact.
SRP serves about 1.1 million customers in Arizona. SWEEP congratulates SRP on its continued success in delivering cost-effective, high performing efficiency programs.
Click here for a copy of SRP’s FY 2020 Energy Efficiency report.
Colorado Issues Draft Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap
On September 30, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and several state agencies released a draft of its Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap. The draft Roadmap presents steps the state can take to meet the near-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution 26% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels.
The Roadmap shows that meeting the 2025 and 2030 goals is achievable with existing cost-effective technologies, but progressing toward these goals will require additional policies beyond actions the state has taken already. To meet the goals, Colorado will need to:
Continue the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of electricity
Significantly expand adoption of electric cars, trucks and buses
Change transportation and land use planning to reduce the need to drive
Expand building efficiency efforts and electrification of buildings
Significantly reduce methane pollution from oil and natural gas production and supply
In comments on the Roadmap, SWEEP’s Executive Director Howard Geller stated:
“The draft Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap correctly identifies energy efficiency and electrification as key tools to cut pollution across Colorado. Reducing energy waste and shifting from fossil fuels to increasingly clean electric power will protect our climate, improve our health and save us money. However, many of the proposed actions in the Roadmap are not fully fleshed out. We look forward to working with Governor Polis and his appointees to “put more meat on the bones” and strengthen the Roadmap before it is finalized.”
The state is seeking comments on the draft Roadmap. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. MT on November 1, 2020.
Comment from SWEEP on Governor Newsom’s Clean Cars Executive Order
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in California must be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. In other words, within 15 years, all new vehicles in the state will run on electricity (or another zero-emission energy source) rather than gasoline or diesel fuel.
This news has regional and national significance. California is the nation’s largest automobile market. Eleven additional states, including Colorado, have adopted California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Standards, the policy which the state uses to accelerate light-duty electric vehicle deployment. Nevada is currently in the process of adopting the standards. And Governor Lujan Grisham announced one year ago that New Mexico plans to adopt the standards as well.
Additionally, Governor Newsom announced that all vehicles operating in medium-and heavy duty fleets must be zero-emission where feasible by 2045; ordered efforts to improve transit service, rail service and bike and pedestrian mobility; and extended the state’s Clean Fuel Standard, which provides important funding for clean transportation. All of these measures will accelerate clean, efficient transportation and would have major benefits if adopted in additional states.
SWEEP Transportation Program Director Travis Madsen issued the following statement:
“This is great news for our wallets, our health, and our climate. Zero-emission vehicles are also efficient vehicles. This move will save us billions of dollars, while also cleaning up our air and reducing climate change. It is the right move for California, and the right move for states across the country. Every state should take similar action.
SWEEP looks forward to working with policy-makers across the U.S. Southwest to speed up our transition to a clean, efficient transportation system, following Governor Newsom’s lead.”
Efficiency Gains in New Affordable Housing
Colorado has joined a growing number of states in boosting energy efficiency in new affordable housing. All states determine their own criteria and methodology for how to dole out federal tax credits to housing developers to incentivize new affordable housing – known as a state’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). In many states, it’s a points-based system. In Colorado, applicants have to meet minimum standards and then a committee decides based on ten guiding principles. SWEEP and its partners were successful in adding energy efficiency into the 2020 guiding principles, specifically “affordable housing constructed and certified to advanced energy performance standards such as Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH), Passive House Institute US, or Passive House Institute.” The QAP also requires all applicants to pursue energy efficiency certification at a minimum of the latest Enterprise Green Communities, National Green Building Standards, or LEED, as well as provide 10% electric vehicle ready parking spaces. This new guiding principle paid off in encouraging more efficiency. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority reports that of the 14 awardees for 9% tax credits, five committed to ZERH with one additionally committing to net zero certification. In the second round currently underway for 4% tax credits, six applicants out of 24 have committed to ZERH. More applicants are expected to pursue ZERH or Passive House as Colorado’s affordable housing developers become more familiar with them. SWEEP encourages other Southwest states to similarly add in stronger efficiency criteria into their QAPs, as well as add in electrification criteria. For more info: Colorado 2020 Qualified Allocation Plan.
New Tool Will Help Utah Cities Meet Their Climate Goals
Utah Clean Energy in partnership with Moab, Park City, Salt Lake City, and Rocky Mountain Power has issued a Roadmap to help these cities (and others) meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. The roadmap provides detailed strategies for how cities can scale up energy efficiency improvements, buildings and vehicles electrification, distributed renewable energy adoption, as well as support utility-scale renewable energy generation. Combined, these resources enable local governments to meet their clean energy goals while also delivering local economic and health benefits, improved resilience, and lower energy bills. The Utah project was implemented through the Solar Energy Innovation Network, an effort led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Nevada Issues Light Bulb Energy Efficiency Standards
On August 24th, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy adopted energy efficiency standards for light bulbs, in response to legislation passed in 2019. The new standards prohibit the sale of inefficient incandescent and halogen lamps in the state starting January 1, 2021. Consumers will be able to select from a wide range of energy-efficient LED and compact fluorescent lamps after the standards take effect. The standards will result in households in Nevada saving around $85 million per year on their electricity bills by 2025, according to analysis conducted by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. SWEEP congratulates the Governor’s Office of Energy for issuing these common sense standards.
Justin Brant and Ellen Zuckerman Named Co-Directors of SWEEP’s Utility Program
We are pleased to announce that Justin Brant and Ellen Zuckerman will take over leadership of SWEEP’s Utility Program on September 1, 2020. Justin has been a Senior Associate at SWEEP since March 2018. Prior to joining SWEEP, he worked for the Cadmus Group and for the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. Ellen has worked for SWEEP since 2011. She is currently SWEEP’s Arizona Representative, a position she will keep while co-directing our Utility Program. She has worked directly on efficiency programs and policies in numerous other states including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and others; and previously worked as a consultant to the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board and the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. SWEEP’s Utility Program advances policies and programs that maximize energy savings and the economic and environmental benefits that result from utility energy efficiency and demand response programs. Contact information for Justin and Ellen remain: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Congratulations Ellen and Justin!
Denver Green Code and Affordable Housing Pilot Program
The City of Denver is piloting a new program that has long been championed by SWEEP’s buildings team – reduced permit fees and an accelerated permitting process for buildings that build significantly above the minimum code. In this case, five select buildings will get these incentives along with a far more streamlined and coordinated Site Development Process if they build to Denver’s new voluntary Green Code, featuring more energy efficiency, better indoor air quality, water conservation, and sustainable materials – or if they build LEED Platinum, net zero, or Passive House (with a few other additional green code provisions). An additional five affordable housing projects will also receive the incentives and assistance in the pilot. Furthermore, all single family and duplex homes that build to the Green Code will receive expedited permitting, even beyond the pilot project. The goal of the program is to encourage projects that support Denver’s vision of a more inclusive, connected, and healthy city. See more information here.
NV Energy Boosts Energy Savings in 2019
NV Energy reports it achieved 327 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of electricity savings and 225 megawatts (MW) of peak load reduction from demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in Nevada in 2019. This was the highest levels of energy savings achieved by the company in the past decade, and represents a 51 percent increase over the energy savings resulting from DSM programs implemented in 2018. The energy savings achieved from 2019 programs were equivalent to 1.15 percent of retail electricity sales by the company.
NV Energy estimates that its 2019 DSM programs will provide $136 million in net economic benefits over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures installed last year. The benefit-cost rate for the portfolio of DSM programs is 2.36. In addition, NV Energy projects that its 2019 DSM programs will cut the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 116,000 tons per year.
NV Energy is the large investor-owned electric serving over 1.3 million customers in Nevada. SWEEP praises NV Energy for significantly expanding the scope and impacts of its DSM programs in 2019.
SWEEP Submits Transportation Climate Policy Recommendations to Colorado Officials
Colorado is developing a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Pollution Reduction Roadmap of actions required to achieve the state’s ambitious HB-1261 climate targets of 26% GHG reductions by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050. Transportation recently surpassed electricity generation as the largest source of climate-changing pollution in Colorado and without bold policy action, it will continue to be the largest emitter. To hit the GHG targets, Colorado must reduce transportation emissions by 40% by 2030 through a combination of vehicle electrification, low-carbon fuels, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and reductions in vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT).
SWEEP proposed a suite of policy recommendations to reduce carbon pollution from transportation and fund the transition to a more efficient transportation system. One idea is to establish a revenue-generating limit on transportation GHG emissions and create a pollution permit system where the number of permits decreases each year in line with the state’s GHG reduction goals. The system would generate much-needed revenue to reinvest clean transportation alternatives, like electric vehicles and improved transit, and ensure that the benefits of climate action will be shared widely and equitably by all Coloradans.
SWEEP urged the state to adopt policies that shift new vehicle sales toward zero-emission vehicles, including more ambitious targets for light-duty vehicles (100% of new sales by 2035), and new requirements for zero-emission trucks, transit buses, school buses, and off-road vehicles. At the same time, Colorado should adopt policies that reduce car dependency and VMT by encouraging more efficient land use and investing transportation dollars in alternatives to driving like transit, biking, and walking.
The AQCC is working with consultants to model the GHG impact of policy scenarios and the final GHG Roadmap will be delivered on September 30, 2020.
Click here to see SWEEP’s transportation policy recommendations to the AQCC: “Colorado Pathways to Reducing Carbon Pollution from the Transportation Sector”
Interveners, Xcel Energy Reach Agreement on Default Time-of-Use Rates
A unanimous settlement agreement has been reached in a docket pertaining to Time-of-Use (TOU) rates for Xcel Energy’s residential customers in Colorado. If the agreement is approved by the PUC, customers will move to TOU rates after receiving an advanced smart meter during the next four years. TOU rates will be in effect the entire year with peak pricing during 3-7pm, shoulder pricing during 1-3pm, and off-peak pricing all other hours. TOU rates help to shift electric demand from peak to off peak periods, thereby reducing utility costs as well as carbon dioxide emissions. Customers will be given an opportunity to opt out of TOU rates if they so choose. SWEEP participated in the docket and supported year-round TOU rates as well as a substantial price differential between peak and off-peak periods. The settlement agreement is expected to be approved by the Colorado PUC.
SWEEP Statement on Racial Injustice and Inequality
With the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, the scourge of police brutality towards people of color, systemic racial injustice and pervasive inequality have come to the forefront in our nation. Millions of protestors are demanding fundamental reforms in policing practices as well as economic and social policies in order to close safety, wealth and public health gaps between white Americans and people of color. It is a moment where no one can sit on the sidelines, including non-profit organizations such as SWEEP.
SWEEP’s mission is to advance more efficient energy use as a means of providing economic and environmental benefits in the states we work in. In fulfilling its mission, SWEEP has focused attention on improving energy efficiency in lower income households and in communities which are heavily populated by people of color. We frequently partner with organizations devoted to the energy needs of poorer communities in support energy efficiency, clean transportation and energy equity initiatives, and we have made significant progress in advancing equity within energy efficiency policies and programs in the region. But we can and should do more.
Doing more starts with better communication with people of color and their representatives. SWEEP works with organizations that represent lower income families and communities. We also have developed relationships with and assisted elected officials of color who have sponsored energy efficiency legislation in part to better serve their constituents. However, we can and will give greater priority to engaging in a dialogue with these organizations and individuals, identifying areas of mutual interest, and soliciting their input on how energy efficiency and clean transportation initiatives can better serve the needs of people of color including lower income families.
Second, SWEEP will redouble its efforts to ensure that energy and climate equity is a priority in the policies and programs we advocate for and support, not just a consideration or even worse an afterthought. We will do our best to ensure that lower income families and communities are well served by energy efficiency, clean transportation and beneficial electrification programs in our region, including receiving a disproportionate share of program resources (funding, outreach, technical assistance, etc.).
There are relatively few individuals of color working in the energy efficiency profession, SWEEP included. SWEEP will step up its efforts to include people of color on our Board and staff, as well as in the energy efficiency profession in general. As we increase our interaction with organizations that represent people of color and lower income families, we will solicit candidates for our Board or staff, as well as ask these organizations to help circulate our job announcements. In addition, we will provide internships to individuals of color so that there is a pathway for these individuals to work in the energy efficiency profession. Going forward, we will provide the majority of our internships to individuals of color.
As we implement these commitments, SWEEP will track progress towards these goals as well as review and update the policies periodically.
New Mexico Utilities Report Strong Energy Savings in 2019
Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), the state’s largest electric utility, reports it achieved over 78 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of electricity savings and 58 megawatts (MW) of peak load reduction from demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in 2019. PNM’s programs provided $20 million in net economic benefits, with an overall benefit-cost ratio of 1.93. In addition, PNM estimates that energy efficiency measures installed through its 2019 DSM programs will avoid 375,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions over their lifetime.
Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS), the state’s second largest electric utility, reports it achieved over 39 GWh per year of electricity savings and 9.4 MW of peak load reduction from DSM programs implemented in 2019. SPS’s programs provided nearly $17 million in net economic benefits, with an overall benefit-cost ratio of 2.69. SPS exceeded its annual energy savings target by 30 percent in 2019.
Energy Impact Offset Fund Energy Assessment Summary Report
Between July 2019 and February 2020, Energy & Resources Solutions (ERS) conducted on-site energy assessments on 14 cannabis cultivation facilities operating in un-incorporated Boulder County (11 indoor and 3 greenhouses). By pairing these assessments with utility consumption data and modeling analysis, ERS was able to provide each participating cultivator with a highly individualized report and recommendations for managing energy in a manner that reduces operating costs, lowers their carbon footprint, and maximizes product yields. This summary report describes the scope of the energy assessments, including the data analysis, highlights of the energy efficiency opportunities, and other guidance for improved energy management.
Neil Kolwey of SWEEP serves on the steering committee overseeing the Boulder County cannabis Energy Impact Offset Fund, and he helped oversee the project.
Click here to read about Boulder County's Cannabis Energy Impact Offset Fund
Summit County Colorado Moves Toward its Path to Zero
The town of Frisco, CO and Summit County, CO have adopted the local building industry and High Country Conservation Center (HCCC) developed Summit County Sustainable Building Code. This code becomes part of the earlier adoption of the 2018 building codes. SWEEP participated in the process with HCCC during 2018 and 2019. Breckenridge and other municipalities in the county are planning to follow with their adoptions in 2020. Additions to the codes include electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure for commercial buildings, multi-family, and single-family homes. Single family homes will include electric vehicle wiring to the parking area. Commercial buildings must be at least 10% more efficient and not more than 25% more efficient depending upon the selected compliance path.
Single family homes and multi-family buildings up to 5 stories must comply with the U.S. DOE Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) program. More water efficient plumbing fixtures are also included for toilets, faucets, sinks, and also clothes washers and dishwashers. The new EV charging requirements incorporate the technical specifications from the upcoming 2021 IECC for new residential and commercial buildings. All new one- and two- family homes must be equipped with one “EV-ready” parking space supporting Level 2 charging. Larger parking lots serving multi-family residential and commercial buildings will provide EV charging stations for at least 5 percent of parking spaces and “EV-Capable” infrastructure for 50 percent of the remaining spaces. The new EV-ready building codes will expand access to EV charging and help Summit County achieve its ambitious climate goals. (For more information on the EV infrastructure code definitions, refer to our blog.)
Xcel Energy Achieves Record Energy Savings in 2019
Xcel Energy reports it achieved over 504 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year of electricity savings and 132 megawatts (MW) of peak load reduction at the generator level from demand-side management (DSM) programs implemented in Colorado in 2019. These were the highest levels of energy savings and peak load reduction since Xcel Energy began implementing comprehensive DSM programs in 2009. The electricity savings surpassed the energy savings goal established by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and were equal to 1.6 percent of the utility’s retail electricity sales.
Xcel Energy estimates that its 2019 electric DSM programs will provide $101 million in net economic benefits over the lifetime of energy efficiency measures installed last year. Natural gas DSM programs implemented by the utility in 2019 will provide an additional $26 million in net economic benefits. Xcel Energy also projects that all its DSM programs will cut the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 3.3 million tons over the lifetime of the energy savings measures installed in 2019.
Xcel Energy is the largest electric and gas utility in Colorado serving nearly 1.5 million customers.
New Building Energy Code to Include Electrification Readiness, EV Infrastructure While Cutting Energy Use
The International Code Council (ICC) certified the results this week of the online governmental consensus voting for the upcoming 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The consensus voting took place in December 2019. The code will be finalized within 30 days, and its anticipated no changes will occur to the certified results. Although opponents have already attempted to invalidate the votes since January 2020. The new 2021 IECC will be a major step for states and municipalities to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions. The code is anticipated to save approximately 10 percent in energy use as compared to the 2018 IECC. Pre electrification requirements are included in the code as are electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure requirements for both residential and commercial buildings. Appendixes have been added to both the commercial and residential building sections which will provide a pathway for states and cities to implement zero energy codes.
Salt River Project Board of Directors Approves $56.5 Million for Energy Efficiency and Transportation Electrification Programs in FY2021
The Board of Directors of Arizona’s Salt River Project (SRP) voted yesterday to approve the utility’s 2021 fiscal year operating budget. The budget includes $51.4 million for demand-side management (DSM) programs and $5.1 million for transportation electrification initiatives.
This funding will enable SRP to make significant progress toward the achievement of its newly-established 2035 sustainability goals, which include new commitments for energy efficiency, demand response, and electric vehicles through 2035. Under its 2035 sustainability plan SRP will:
Deliver over 3 million megawatt-hours of annual aggregate energy savings by 2035
Deliver at least 300 megawatts of dispatchable demand response and load management programs
Support the enablement of 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in its service territory and manage 90% of those vehicles through price plans, dispatchable load management, and other offerings
Under the budget approved yesterday, SRP will invest:
$25.3 million in residential energy efficiency programs, including its Cool Cash Rebate, Duct Test and Repair, ENERGY STAR Homes, and the Smart Thermostat programs.
$20.9 million in commercial energy efficiency programs, including its Standard Business Solutions, New Construction, and Building Code Initiative programs.
$5.2 million in demand response programs including its Net Rush Hour Rewards program.
The SRP decision comes at a time when the Arizona Corporation Commission is actively discussing the future of energy efficiency policy, including plans to extend and expand its Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which sunsets at the end of this year.
SWEEP congratulates the SRP Board and Management for this important decision which will accelerate clean energy deployment in Arizona. Click here to view details of SRP’s fiscal year 2021 budget
2020 Utah Legislative Session Recap
The Utah Legislature took some important steps on energy efficiency and clean transportation this session. Creation of a home energy information pilot program, increased funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and support for heat pumps and beneficial electrification shows positive momentum on clean energy, climate and air quality in Utah. The bills are awaiting signature by Governor Herbert, who is expected to sign all into law. SWEEP thanks its partner Utah Clean Energy for leading efforts to secure the adoption of these important new policies.
Home Energy Efficiency Score Pilot
One of the biggest wins this session was passage of HB 235 - Voluntary Home Energy Information Pilot Program. The bill was sponsored by Representative Patrice Arent (Millcreek) and Senator Curt Bramble (Provo).
HB 235 will increase consumer awareness of energy costs, energy use, and emissions from homes. The bill will allow the Utah Governor's Office of Energy Development to create the rules for a voluntary home energy efficiency report (think of it as a "miles-per-gallon" energy rating for homes). Today, consumers have no way to easily compare energy costs, energy use, or emissions from homes that they are considering for purchase. This information is vital to unlocking demand for home energy upgrades and efficient new homes.
Expanding Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
HB 396 - Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Amendments, sponsored by Representative Lowry Snow (Santa Clara), focuses on utility-owned electric vehicle charging infrastructure and EV charging station services. The legislation authorizes Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) to spend up to $50 million on electric vehicle infrastructure and for EV charging services through a program to be approved by the Public Service Commission. It will also allow RMP to develop a rate to charge customers for using electric charging stations. The bill was amended to allow private, third-party charging services to compete with RMP to offer EV charging services to customers.
HB 259 - Electric Vehicle Charging Network, sponsored by Representative Robert Spendlove (Sandy), requires the Utah Department of Transportation to develop a statewide plan for an electric vehicle charging network. The plan will be developed with feedback from private entities and several state agencies: the state Department of Environmental Quality, the Office of Energy Development, The Department of Natural Resources, and the Division of Facilities Construction and Management.
The Legislature also appropriated $2 million for installing EV charging stations and charging equipment in areas of Utah served by rural electric cooperatives. This will help to make EVs viable in all parts of the state.
Promoting Building Electrification
HB 431- Energy Rebate Program Amendments, sponsored by Representative Steve Handy (Layton), allows Rocky Mountain Power to use energy efficiency program funding to provide incentives for heat pumps, even if it means switching from natural gas or propane-based heating to high efficiency electric heating. Adoption of heat pumps can reduce the carbon intensity of buildings especially as the electric grid shifts to cleaner renewable sources of power generation.
HB-431 also allows participants in utility-sponsored energy efficiency rebate programs, such as homebuilders, to make use of energy efficiency rebates for up to 12 months after a change in state building codes. This provision should accelerate the adoption of energy efficient construction practices and improve energy code compliance.
Southwest Utilities Show Mixed Performance in New Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard
Xcel Energy – CO is the top utility in the Southwest in a new Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard released on February 20th by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Xcel Energy – CO ranked 15th out of 52 utilities included in the Scorecard. The utility earned the same number of points as in the previous Scorecard.
Two utilities in the Southwest, the Salt River Project and Nevada Power Company, improved their scores in the 2020 Scorecard relative to those in the previous ACEEE Scorecard. On the other hand, Arizona Public Service Company and PacifiCorp-Utah saw their scores decline (see Table below). The top utilities in the nation received 46 points in the 2020 Scorecard, out of a maximum of 50 points.
The ACEEE Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard covers 20 metrics across three categories:
• Quantitative energy efficiency savings and spending performance
• Energy efficiency program offerings
• Enabling mechanisms for energy efficiency
Tri-State Announces Transformative New Energy Plan
On January 15th, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced its Responsible Energy Plan, which includes shutting down the utility’s coal-fired power plants in Colorado and New Mexico, greatly expanding renewable energy generation, increasing support for electric vehicles, and significantly cutting the utility’s greenhouse gas emissions. Tri-State also said it will expand its energy efficiency, demand-side management and beneficial electrification programs. Howard Geller, SWEEP’s Executive Director, served on the advisory group that helped Tri-State develop it’s Responsible Energy Plan. The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a non-profit cooperative that provides power to 43 electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.
City of Boulder Continues Its Path to Zero Energy Buildings
On January 21, 2020, the Boulder City Council unanimously passed updates to the city's building energy codes. Boulder has been on a glide path to zero net energy buildings and these updates continue the city's advancement in building efficiency. Additions include adding electric vehicle (EV) charging requirements for commercial and residential buildings, new construction falls primarily under performance requirements including outcome based compliance for commercial buildings, improved insulation and window efficiency, new testing requirements for commercial buildings, improved lighting efficiency including lighting efficiency for interior plant growth, solar readiness, and building performance requirements. An outcome-based commercial code compliance path where performance is verified after occupancy and another path where at least 5% of commerical building energy use must be supplied by on-site renewables are also included.
Residential buildings will no longer be able to have natural gas equipment with continuously burning pilot lights and hot tubs and spas must have their energy use offset by renewable energy. Currently, 5,000 sf and larger new homes reach zero-energy, with the new code all new single family homes larger than 3,000 sf must reach zero energy on the energy rating index scale. Also, solar readiness is required for homes and townhomes, and an option to allow contributing to an energy impact offset fund if new homes cannot feasibly add solar on site or its technically infeasible if off-site solar subscriptions are not available.
Other items incorporated into the building codes update include recognizing permanent installation of tiny homes are all now required in the City of Boulder.
New Utah Roadmap Points the Way for Mitigating Climate Impacts and Improving Air Quality
At the request of the Utah Legislature, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah, with the assistance of a Technical Advisory Committee, prepared and issued The Utah Roadmap: Positive Solutions on Climate and Air Quality. The stated objective of the Roadmap is to assist with policymaking to improve air quality and address causes and impacts of a changing climate. The Utah Roadmap identifies areas of opportunity to reduce air emissions and ensure a healthy, productive, and prosperous future for all Utahns. Recommendations in the Utah Roadmap include:
Establish goals to reduce CO2 emissions statewide 25% below 2005 levels by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2050.
Adopt robust energy-efficiency goals for all state buildings.
Strengthen residential and commercial building standards, and incentivize their adoption, to reduce emissions, improve air quality, increase energy efficiency and lower costs for building owners, tenants, and residents.
Increase investment in transit and active transportation infrastructure and – as importantly – frequent and convenient bus and rail service that builds ridership and connects residents with opportunities.
Complete expansion of Utah’s network of EV-charging stations to cover all communities, state highways, and scenic byways as quickly as possible.
Target EV incentives towards middle and low-income Utah households, replacement of vehicles 12 years or older, and home charging stations.
SWEEP’s partner organization, Utah Clean Energy, participated in the Technical Advisory Committee that helped the Policy Institute prepare the Roadmap.