Utah Can Benefit from Energy Efficiency
Groups celebrate National Energy Efficiency Day while drawing attention to local rollbacks
October 2, Salt Lake City, UT – In recognition of National Energy Efficiency Day on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah), Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen, Utah Clean Energy (UCE), and Living Zenith are joining regional and national organizations, utilities, universities, and individuals in promoting energy efficiency.
“Energy efficiency awareness and action will help reduce emissions, especially as our population grows along the Wasatch Front,” said HEAL Utah’s Policy Associate, Jessica Reimer. “We need all solutions in practice, especially those that are cost-effective like energy efficiency programs, in order to ensure we have a healthy airshed for our communities.”
Energy efficiency is one of the cheapest, quickest ways to meet Utah’s energy needs, cut utility bills, and reduce pollution. With a U.S. energy efficiency workforce of over 2.3 million nationwide, it is also a robust economic engine.
“Even as Utah’s economy has grown, there’s been a decline in individual energy use and emissions thanks to energy efficient technologies,” Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen said. “Not only does energy efficiency usage help reduce harmful emissions, but the industry also employs nearly 32,000 people statewide.”
Utah’s thriving energy efficiency market is due, in part, to programs like Wattsmart. This program, run by Rocky Mountain Power, provides incentives and rebates to help utility customers choose the most energy efficient technologies. Since Rocky Mountain Power began implementing energy efficiency programs in 2001, these programs have helped ratepayers and the utility save over $1.1 billion in electricity costs.
Despite its success, the level of electricity that Rocky Mountain Power saved through Wattsmart declined by about 24% in 2018 due to cuts to the program, according to a company report issued earlier this year.
“Rocky Mountain Power’s previous energy efficiency investments have provided economic and environmental benefits to Utah families and businesses to the tune of $1.1 billion in savings and 1.6 billion tons of avoided CO2 emissions. We’re concerned that the utility’s energy efficiency programs declined significantly in 2018 and could decline again this year,” stated Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director for Utah Clean Energy.
With Utah’s rapidly expanding population and existing air quality problems, energy efficiency must remain an affordable, accessible option.
“People are very interested in saving energy but aren’t always sure where to start. We’ve had over a thousand people come through our community seeking strategies for what they can do in their own homes,” Tiffany Ivins of Living Zenith, a local net zero home builder said. “It’s exciting to see energy efficient buildings proliferate throughout Utah and, working together, we can ensure that high performance housing becomes the new norm.”
Reducing the energy used by manufacturers, homes, and businesses benefits everyone, especially the ratepayers. Efficient HVAC systems and appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, and water heaters, saves the average household almost $500 annually.
On National Energy Efficiency Day, HEAL Utah, UCE, and Living Zenith all urge Rocky Mountain Power to sustain and grow the Wattsmart program – not to roll it back – and encourage state lawmakers to take steps to support homeowners, businesses, and developers in order to achieve energy-smart and high-performance buildings through smart policies and incentives.
About the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah: The Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah) has been an environmental advocacy organization, watchdog, and strategic influencer in Utah since 1999. By empowering grassroots advocates, using science-based solutions, and developing common-sense policy, HEAL has a track record of tackling some of the biggest threats to Utah’s environment and public health — and succeeding. The organization focuses on clean air, energy and climate, and radioactive waste. HEAL uses well-researched legislative, regulatory, and individual responsibility approaches to create tangible change, and then utilizes grassroots action to make it happen. www.healutah.org
About Utah Clean Energy: Utah Clean Energy is Utah’s leading expert, public interest organization working to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency in a way that is beneficial not only for Utah’s environment and health, but our economy and long-term energy security. Utah Clean Energy is committed to creating a future that ensures healthy, thriving communities for all, empowered and sustained by clean energy such as solar, wind, and energy efficiency. www.utahcleanenergy.org
About Living Zenith: Living Zenith offers greener building for better living through net zero communities. Founded in 2016, this collaborative group has won multiple innovation and design awards and has more on the horizon in the Salt Lake area and Southern Utah. Built by Redfish Builders, Living Zenith homes emphasize high performance and efficiency through energy generation, healthy indoor air quality and innovative modern design.