Salt River Project (SRP) Increases Energy Efficiency Programs But Still Lags Arizona Public Service (APS)

Media Contacts
Diane E. Brown

Arizona PIRG Education Fund

While Salt River Project (SRP), the second largest utility in Arizona, has elected to delay a major rate increase until at least May of next year, its board voted today to increase its commitment to energy efficiency and renewable programs via an Environmental Program Cost Adjustment Factor” (EPCAF).  This will provide additional dollars for SRP’s existing programs as well as some additional programs. While maintaining and increasing funding for these programs is critical, SRP is lagging its utility counterparts such as APS relative to energy savings.

For example, in 2012, the APS proposed programs will have nearly double SRP’s annual energy savings as a percentage of total energy resources, and that gap just gets wider.  SRP offers programs including rebates on energy efficient appliances and air conditioners as well as support for compact fluorescent light bulbs.  Through today’s board vote, SRP will also look into expanding energy audits for small businesses and homes.  However, according to environmental and consumer groups, there is a lot more SRP can and should do to help its customers reduce electricity use and utility bills.

“We appreciate Salt River Project’s approval of an increase in energy efficiency programs,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.  “But they should make an additional commitment and set a goal of increasing energy efficiency 20 percent by 2020 as is being considered by the Arizona Corporation Commission, and at a minimum establish a program to achieve the same energy savings as APS.”

“By voicing opposition to the proposed SRP rate hike, ratepayers scored and ended up winning more stabilized prices, greater reliability and a reduction in infrastructure costs through improved energy efficiency,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. 

In the current APS rate case settlement, APS will significantly expand investment in energy efficiency and in renewables including for schools. In 2010, one hundred schools will benefit from the APS energy efficiency and renewable programs.  At the same time, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is considering an Energy Efficiency Standard for all regulated utilities that could increase efficiency over current levels 20 percent by 2020.  SRP is not regulated by the ACC.

Stakeholders are encouraging the SRP board to expand and better market its current programs as well as add new ones. Some areas to consider include:

  • •    Partnerships with local organizations to promote energy efficiency such as with a community tree planting organization to plant shade trees.  There are significant benefits from these programs if implemented properly.  Tucson Electric Power has been involved in Trees for Tucson for many years and this is a successful program to keep things a little cooler in Tucson. (Other programs to reduce the urban heat island effect such as cool roofs and pavements should also be considered.)
  • •    Neighborhood programs where SRP focuses on residential and small business energy efficiency opportunities in a specific neighborhood, working in one or two neighborhoods each year.
  • •    A significant program for energy efficiency and renewable at schools.  The proposed APS rate case settlement includes a commitment to helping schools become more efficient as well as to install solar modules.
  • •    Large scale give-away programs for CFLs and low cost efficiency measures such as faucet aerators, low flow showerheads, weather-stripping, water heater wraps, etc., where SRP contractors or personnel install these simple measures for customers, perhaps as part of a neighborhood program.
  • •    On-the-bill financing for large efficiency projects for residential and small business customers.
  • •    Undertaking more demonstration projects such as SRP or public building projects that meet LEED Gold or higher standards.