Every year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (SWEEP) issues a report which ranks states on utility and state policies and programs that help improve energy efficiency. In the Southwest, Arizona is the leader in energy efficiency. Jeff Schlegel, a SWEEP associate in Arizona, will discuss the report.
Ted Simons: In tonight's "Focus on Sustainability" we look at report by the "American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy," which ranks Arizona top incidents southwest for policies and programs that help improve energy efficiency. Here with more is Jeff Schlegel, the state Representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or "Sweep." Good see you again, thanks for joining us.
Jeff Schlegel: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: The "American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy," what is this? What are we talking about?
Jeff Schlegel: They are a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that monitors state energy efficient policies across the nation. Each year they do a state scorecard, a ranking of states which essentially compares the states on an equal benchmark and awards rankings accordingly.
Ted Simons: Arizona was No. 1 for efficiency, what does mean?
Jeff Schlegel: Arizona ranked in the energy efficiency savings, fourth overall, close behind New England states. The key factor of getting savings for customers a thing our organization cares most about, the real savings of customers that reduce their utility bill, Colorado was ranked 14th, Colorado 16th.
Ted Simons: Are we getting better? What's happening?
Jeff Schlegel: Arizona overall was ranked 12th last year, 15th this year. Colorado was ranked 13th. In the southwest region Colorado actually surpassed us overall. The utilities program was 11th, 4th overall in the key area of savings. That's where the rubber meets the road, the real savings people put on their bills.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about some of the things the study looked at. Energy standards for public buildings. talk about the metrics,
Jeff Schlegel: They fall into six main categories. Transportation policies, building codes, appliance standards and state initiatives, those are some of the key areas. Arizona did very well in savings in the utility programs, he and did more middle of the pack in areas like transportation, building codes and appliance standards.
Ted Simons: Are those things Arizona is looking to improve? Are they difficult to improve? What's happening?
Jeff Schlegel: Let's say building codes where Arizona didn't score as well as we had hoped or expected. You have a real mixture in the state. You have some towns adopting aggressive building energy codes. And Arizona is a growing state with lots of new buildings being built. Those towns want to do it right the first time and not have to go back a few years later and fix it. Arizona has more talent for breaking tax codes.
Ted Simons: As far as policy is concerned how does that factor in to all of this?
Jeff Schlegel: The most important tax breaks tend to be at the federal level, "SWEEP" is in support of that. The thing that tends to make the most impact on the rankings and the savings again, the utility premiums and SRP and APS are doing a very good job of getting those savings for customers.
Ted Simons: Some of those programs are controversial right now because some are being fought, some may go away, others want to see them enhanced. We they states that do well in that area, move up the rankings. In our view the policeman's are cost effectively, saving customers only.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the state did -- there are certain cities ahead of other cities. How is Phoenix doing in all of this?
Jeff Schlegel: Phoenix is doing well, in the annual rankings of major cities it was ranked 15th. You can see the City of Phoenix does well in some categories and not as well in others. We're looking forward to the next ranking that comes out.
Ted Simons: What are some of the pluses and minuses for Phoenix?
Jeff Schlegel: A good leadership, it is payment program, a major improvement in efficiency downtown and long the light rail, those are examples of good policies going forward. They also have a good building code.
Ted Simons: As far as Arizona's strengths and efficiency? Where do you see those strengths being enhanced?
Jeff Schlegel: They offer very effective programs for customers and those are saving money for customers. SRP, APS, we just need more of the same, continue programs serving customers. The Arizona Corporation Commission and the SRP board, shows teams actually set the goals has led to great savings for customers and a number 4 ranking.
Ted Simons: It's also led to much consternation. I've mentioned the goal post before. How do you make sure whatever track you are on stays on?
Jeff Schlegel: That standard was adopted by a bipartisan group that was a mixed commission of Republicans and Democrats. While there are many issues that are polarized in Arizona, the support for energy efficiency, is really -- Republicans and Democrats both have supported it in the past. We hope to continue to see that in the future. In terms of what customers can do, vote. If you want more energy efficiency, vote for commissions who will support energy efficiencies.
Ted Simons: The building code is one area of treatment in we've got appliance inside in terms of after term improvement.
Jeff Schlegel: Retaining and maintaining the energy efficient programs.
Ted Simons: As far as preparation is turning, I know there's a lot of discussion with "Sweep" and other advocates within the state of Arizona.
Jeff Schlegel: "SWEEP" has a policy department where we're working on new policies in terms of supporting electric vehicles and support vehicling.
Ted Simons: And so what do we take from this particular study?
Jeff Schlegel: I think it's a great record for doing well in an area. And it's a good indicator of areas of improvement in the future.
Ted Simons: If I'm a politician and you're talking to me like this, tell me to look at a state, what are they doing really?
Jeff Schlegel: Yes, the states on the top of the list are the New England states that have good policies in much of the New England states?
Ted Simons: It can't be, but Arizona is getting more savings for less money than some of the other states are doing.
Ted Simons: Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.
Jeff Schlegel:Associate, SWEEP;