Pioneers for Clean Energy in Arizona Case Studies Released

Media Contacts
Diane E. Brown

Report Highlights Success Stories and Urges Utilities and Regulators to Increase Energy Efficiency

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

According to Pioneers for Clean Energy in Arizona, a new report released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, businesses, residences and local governments across Arizona are making strides to increase their energy efficiency. The report notes that electricity demand is high — from TVs to dishwashers to refrigerators to charging cell phones — and with energy demand expected to increase as Arizona’s population grows in the future, the timing to increase energy efficiency could not be better.

“Increasing energy efficiency does not expose customers or utilities to fluctuating fossil fuel, natural gas and other such prices. Investments in energy efficiency yield high returns and can be implemented in a short time frame and customized to specific consumer needs. When energy supply costs are reduced, bills are lowered for customers. The resulting energy savings more than offset the cost of energy efficiency measures, and businesses and consumers save money which can be used to benefit local economies,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.

According to Brown, the consequences of continuing down a dirty and dangerous energy path include increased air pollution, unsustainable water use from operating coal and nuclear plants, escalating asthma rates, and higher and unpredictable electric bills.  In addition, traditional fossil fuel plants are very costly to build and take many years to produce consumable electricity whereas energy efficiency measures can be implemented immediately. 

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund report states that most businesses, consumers and local governments spend more money than is necessary buying energy.  The group says the problem of overspending on energy can be solved first by identifying and isolating areas where too much money is being spent on wasted energy, and then by instituting conservation measures or efficiency upgrades that curb that energy consumption and overspending on energy bills. Those who have made it a priority to track energy expenditures and implement cost savings have found great success in reducing their electricity bills.

The report points to public buildings at the local and state level which provide excellent opportunities for public education and information on how construction practices can be changed to save energy and money while reducing waste and pollution. 

A number of Arizona municipalities were highlighted as energy efficiency champions that have implemented beyond-code standards, including Apache Junction, Buckeye, Marana, Pima County, Scottsdale, and Tucson. These programs exceed the minimum efficiency requirements in local building codes and are designed as voluntary Green Building programs or other sets of higher code development, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  The LEED Green Building Rating System awards points to buildings that meet criteria focused on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

According to Pioneers for Clean Energy in Arizona, there are many options available to reduce energy costs, some through the Arizona Department of Energy and others through utility programs referenced in this report, to increase energy reliability and decrease pollution, including:

1. Development and expansion of utility programs for demand side management of energy usage; 
2. Retrofit buildings to make them more energy efficient, including upgrading appliances, air conditioning and heating/ventilation systems; and
3. Adoption and implementation of energy efficient building codes with minimum efficiency standards for public and private buildings.

In addition, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund is urging the Arizona Corporation Commission and Salt River Project to adopt and implement an Energy Efficiency Standard of 20% by 2020.
Brown concluded, “There remain enormous opportunities in Arizona to achieve dramatic pocketbook savings and pollution reductions by putting in place new policies and taking advantage of rebates and incentive programs which make implementation of energy efficiency even more cost-effective.”  The Arizona PIRG Education Fund encourages sending Arizona energy efficiency success stories to [email protected]