Regional News Briefs

March

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

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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.

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February

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

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January

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.

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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.

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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.

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