DENVER, CO—A coalition of groups including Environment Colorado and the CoPIRG Foundation delivered over 6,000 petitions and dozens of letters from elected officials to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), calling on them to reject a proposal by Xcel Energy to scale back their energy savings programs. At stake is $600 million in savings for Xcel’s approximately 1.4 million customers.
“It’s Earth Day. The cheapest and cleanest way to reduce the energy industry’s impact on our health and environment is through aggressive energy efficiency programs,” said Kim Stevens, Environment Colorado Campaign Director. “Our message is simple - Don’t rollback energy savings programs. And thousands agree.”
In 2007, Colorado passed a law requiring Xcel Energy and other for-profit utilities to launch robust energy savings programs that reduce energy waste. Specific annual goals were set by the PUC in 2008 for each year through 2020. The efficiency programs and measures implemented during 2009-2013 are expected to provide $924 million in net economic benefits. Energy efficiency avoided the equivalent pollution of taking 215,000 cars of the road, saved the equivalent of 5,000 homes’ annual use of water and has helped create hundreds of jobs in the energy sector.
“Energy efficiency is a huge success story for Colorado. Money saved. Pollution avoided. Jobs created. A win-win-win,” said Katz. “This proves that before a utility does anything, they should first maximize cutting energy waste.”
Last year, Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility with 1.4 million customers, asked the PUC to lower their goals by 28% from 2015-2020. At stake is nearly $600 million in savings. Over the next three days, the PUC will hear arguments about the proposal, which will help them make a decision.
Before the hearing, a coalition of groups dropped off 6,177 petitions and 280 personal letters from Coloradans calling for the PUC to reject Xcel’s proposal. In addition, the coalition dropped off letters from 29 elected officials from Costilla County to New Castle and letters from groups like the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association. Dozens of Coloradans were also inspired to show their support for energy efficiency and send in selfEEs – “selfie” photos of them with energy efficient gadgets.
“Since 2009, energy efficiency programs in Colorado by utilities like Xcel have reduced enough energy to power 210,000 homes,” said Danny Katz, Director of the CoPIRG Foundation. “This has saved Coloradans money, reduced pollution and created jobs. We should not roll these programs back.”
Over the last five years, Xcel Energy has deployed robust programs that offer rebates for lights, appliances, furnaces and air conditioners, home and business energy upgrades. Consumers have purchased 12 million CFL lightbulbs and businesses completed 24,000 energy efficiency upgrades. The program was so successful that Xcel Energy beat their energy savings goals every year and spent less than anticipated every year but 2012.
“Groups like SWEEP, the Energy Efficient Business Coalition and the Sierra Club are in the PUC hearing right now making the case that energy savings should not be rolled back,” said Stevens. “But we also wanted to raise the voice of Coloradans from across the state. And the message is clear – don’t roll back energy savings.”
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Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental organization working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, visit http://www.environmentcoloradocenter.org/