Saving Billions with Energy Efficiency

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The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has released a report that shows how Arizona households and businesses can save billions of dollars through improved energy efficiency. SWEEP Executive Director Howard Geller talks about the report.

Richard Ruelas: According to new report, Arizona can save billions of dollars, create new jobs, and conserve water, and reduce air pollution by fully implementing an energy reduction plan. The southwest energy efficiency project, or sweep, is a public interest group that seeks to improve energy efficiencies in six southwestern states. Here to talk about the plan to reduce energy consumption is Jeff Schlegel, sweeps Arizona representative. Thanks for joining us.

Jeff Schlegel: Thank you for having me.

Richard Ruelas: To sounds like there is no downside to this. Tell us what steps we would have to take as consumers to implement the plans you are going to present tomorrow at the Carnegie Library.

Jeff Schlegel: We are on our way here. Arizona utilities are offering energy efficiency programs to their customers now. And these programs do everything from helping customers insulate their homes to more energy efficient lighting, better air-conditioners, and for businesses, and same deal. The businesses can improve their lighting or their cooling and ventilation, their motors. A to z. The programs are out there now, and our report suggests increasing and ramping those programs up.

Richard Ruelas: Will consumers you, is there anything in your report that, will consumers feel in effect or feel difference in their lives? Besides the money savings?

Jeff Schlegel: Yes. Absolutely. The one aspect is the money savings and the other is the jobs, and this report, if we save the energy savings by 2020, the report promotes, there will be 10,400 new jobs in Arizona. And net new jobs. Those are in addition to -- there will be more in insulation, engineering, fields like that and few less jobs at power plants. The net impact will be 10,000 new jobs, in addition, there will be 4.1 billion gallons of water savings. Each year by 2020. And they will be, there will be less pollution so things like pollution related, induced asthma will be fewer cases of that in children.

Richard Ruelas: Are you asking people to do things like up their thermostat or god for bid turn off their television. Are there any steps like that, that you are asking consumers to take?

Jeff Schlegel: We do have a behavior program, which encourages customers to learn how they are using energy, and then make better or more efficient use of that energy, but there is no curtailment or hardship.

Richard Ruelas: Do you find when people have the energy audit, that they do change the way that they use the power?

Jeff Schlegel: Yes, we do. Some of the programs that we have out there, both the audit program and the home energy report, a report that is sent to customers or, where customers can go online, that report has tips in there, and customers do end up changing their behaviors, so the tips are targeted to them.

Richard Ruelas: There is steps for consumers and business, and does government have a role? How much buy-in do you need to implement this program?

Jeff Schlegel: Arizona is, is on track already. The Arizona corporation commission, in 2010, pass the energy efficiency standard, which requires Arizona utilities to, to save 20% of its, for the Arizona energies by 2020. Our report suggests that, that we can save 21% so we're right on track. We're already on, on our -- on a task. And that 21% energy savings in 2020, that's the power equivalent of 10 large power plants, so it's a significant savings. A significant impact on Arizona. And as I have said, the commission passed a rule, energy efficiency standard, that's equivalent to what we proposed here.

Richard Ruelas: At what barriers do you see? And roads blocks to you sense might be coming down that you have to guard against?

Jeff Schlegel: Well, I think that two main barriers are funding support you, if you, you know, energy efficiencies investment, so investing in energy efficiency is going to provide the 7.3 billion of savings, and that would come to Arizona consumers, but one does need to make the investment. So that usually requires some action or funding up front. In this case, the utilities are offering rebates and incentives to help customers but they have to take that action. And in terms of government barriers, the corporation commission, and SRP board, they have programs like this. And the corporation commission and the board would need to continue to fund those programs. So, those are, essentially, both the opportunities, therefore, but also the action needed.

Richard Ruelas: I guess to put it to a very basic level, the CFL light bulbs are more expensive but we trust they are going to save us money in the long run. You are talking about on massive scale, businesses to buy into those efficiencies?

Jeff Schlegel: Absolutely. Especially on the business side. You know. We have had some good success with residential customers. On the business side, these programs really ramp up and increase the activity, everything from, from, every time a business renovates or revamp, every time there is a new small business open, there is great opportunities for, for reducing their energy bills, say 10 to 40%.

Richard Ruelas: So you are presenting a study tomorrow. Do you expect business and government to be in concert with this? There is no real opposition to, to this plan yet?

Jeff Schlegel: We don't believe that there is any significant opposition, when the commission passed the, the energy efficiency standard in 2010, it was mixed commission, republicans, democrats, and the vote was to approve the standard. This is a win-win for, for, for customers, for the utilities, for, for the economy and the environment. And again, 7.3 billion in savings to Arizona consumers and businesses. A big deal.

Richard Ruelas: With taking what sounds like small steps, not a lot of these.

Jeff Schlegel: These are significant steps that business, and consumers need to take, but each step they take is a cost effective step. It's each step you take will reward you, in the taking of that.

Richard Ruelas: Excellent and, and without a lot of, a lot of what I meant by small step was not asking us to, to change our lifestyle, it seemed. It's small things that will result in savings.

Jeff Schlegel: Right, these are all things that take energy and use if better doing things better rather than wasting it.

Richard Ruelas: It seems to make sense. I appreciate you coming down and sharing the report with us.

Jeff Schlegel: Happy to do so.

Richard Ruelas: Thank you.

Howard Geller:Executive Director, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP);

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