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February 16, 2015

This blog continues our feature series on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. In order to achieve or surpass the EPA’s expectations for Building Block 4 of the plan, energy efficiency, Arizona will need to continue the current trajectory of its energy efficiency savings beyond the 2020 timeframe. However, there is some concern about whether the level of savings we outlined in our previous post can be sustained. As lighting and HVAC processes become more energy efficient over time, for example, future incremental savings opportunities will be become more difficult to identify. Likewise, as certain federal energy efficiency standards come into effect, there is concern whether states can include those savings towards the CPP targets. This post outlines several potential energy efficiency measures that Arizona can include in its CPP state plan to ensure that energy efficiency makes significant contributions to the state’s emissions reduction target.

Table 1. Summary of major federal energy efficiency appliance standards since 2009. Source: Appliance Standards Awareness Project.


Expanded energy efficiency appliance standards

Appliance and equipment standards specify the minimum energy efficiency levels of specific products. These standards are a proven and cost-effective method for achieving significant energy savings. Arizona currently has appliance standards for pool pumps and portable electric spas. Arizona could add new standards for products such as battery chargers, commercial dishwashers, refrigerators and small motors. For example, California’s new battery charger standards, adopted in 2012, result in annual electricity savings equivalent to providing electricity to approximately 350,000 homes. Additionally, Arizona can benefit from new appliance standards set nationally, by the DOE, and their associated electricity savings. Table 1 (below) shows electricity savings, CO2 reductions, and dollar savings from standards finalized since 2009.

Public sector energy efficiency initiatives

Although Arizona has made great strides, making improvements to its public sector represents a significant energy savings opportunity. Expanding existing efficiency measures in Arizona’s public sector through setting energy savings goals, financing programs, use of performance contracting, and other mechanisms can provide additional energy savings in public buildings and public infrastructure. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) identifies Peoria, AZ as a successful example of a local government achieving a significant reduction in its electricity consumption by using only general fund dollars and revenues from sales of municipal bonds. According to SWEEP, Peoria reduced the city’s total annual electrical usage by 7.7%, saving almost 5.4 GWh per year. This was accomplished with work performed in 2009-2011—some buildings have already achieved over 20% savings. Additionally, the city of Tempe, AZ has established municipal energy efficiency targets that include an energy dashboard tool for real-time monitoring of city buildings' energy consumption and annual savings. This tool allows users to compare the energy performance of city buildings as part of the Sustainable Tempe project. In summary, several municipalities and regions throughout Arizona have established public sector initiatives that can be expanded and strengthen. For Arizona to meet its goals under the CPP, pubic sector initiatives will play a key role.

Improved and expanded energy efficiency building codes

ACEEE estimates that adopting state-of-the-art building energy codes nationwide could provide incremental annual savings of 10,900 GWh per year in 2020 and 12,100 GWh per year in 2030. As a home rule state, Arizona adopts building codes at the local level. A number of Arizona communities have adopted energy codes or building codes that contain energy chapters, such as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Arizona communities with no existing energy efficiency building codes can adopt existing measures to start contributing to Arizona’s CPP targets. Likewise, parts of Arizona with existing building codes can increase their stringency over the next 5-10 years. Although a home rule environment is difficult for measurement and verification purposes, given that different municipalities and regions have varying accounting metrics for energy savings, home rule states should be allowed to receive energy savings credits for building energy codes that are included in a state’s CPP plan. Energy benchmarking tools—such as DOE’s Building Energy Asset Score tool and EPA ENERGY STAR’s Building Portfolio tool—and methodologies make this process easier for tracking the energy efficiency improvements in buildings. Home rule states like Arizona should track construction levels in local jurisdictions that have adopted these up-to-date codes to ensure they can be accounted for when meeting the CPP target. Through activities such as technical assistance, Arizona utilities supported these codes to meet existing energy efficiency requirements such as the Arizona Corporation Commission’s energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) and Salt River Project’s Sustainable Portfolio Principles. The expertise, relationships, and institutions are already in place to support an expanded effort for energy efficiency building codes.

Written by Jeffrey Swofford, Energy Policy Innovation Council and Ph.D. Student, School of Sustainability