Southwest Energy Efficiency Project celebrates 20th anniversary
SWEEP Founder Howard Geller honored for outstanding leadership and impact
[BOULDER, CO] – Founded in 2001, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) celebrated its 20th anniversary by awarding its Founder and former Executive Director, Howard Geller, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Geller, who served as Executive Director of SWEEP for 20 years, stepped down from his position in January. In a celebration at the eTown Hall in Boulder, Colorado, dozens of policymakers, colleagues, fellow environmental advocates, and staff and Board members came out to pay tribute to Geller and mark SWEEP’s 20 years of impactful work for cleaner air and more efficient energy throughout the Southwest.
Geller arrived in Colorado in 2001 and launched SWEEP after many years of working on energy efficiency programs and policies at the national level, including serving as the Executive Director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. He has advised and conducted energy efficiency studies for utilities, governmental organizations, and international agencies, testified before Congress on energy issues many times, and influenced key energy legislation.
During his two decades at SWEEP, Howard led the organization to become a major player in energy efficiency, achieving numerous accomplishments, including: increasing demand-side management program investments from about $21 million to about $375 million per year; helping utilities expand the scope and impact of their efficiency programs, including increasing efforts to assist low-income households and historically underserved communities; securing roughly $7.6 billion in savings for households and businesses over the past 10 years through utility energy efficiency programs implemented in the Southwest; and many more.
“I extend my congratulations to SWEEP on 20 years and to Howard Geller, who has been impactful in so many different ways,” said Bill Ritter, former Governor of Colorado. “He’s made a difference in Colorado, the West, and across the country. People are finally catching on to the things that [Howard] saw as important and critical a long time ago.”
“SWEEP, with Howard Geller’s leadership, has helped me on legislation that will make a huge difference for Colorado and for our planet,” said Cathy Kipp, Colorado State Representative. “Thank you, Howard, for all of your excellent work.”
“Howard is leaving SWEEP in good hands, with Elise Jones taking over the helm and a wonderful team,” said John Nielsen, Vice President of Policy & Programs at Western Resource Advocates. “I thank Howard for leaving Washington all those years ago, packing up his station wagon, heading west, and starting SWEEP. SWEEP has been a gift for the work we do on climate and the planet’s inhabitants. Howard is one of the smartest policy experts out there, with deep knowledge and expertise on energy efficiency. And he gets stuff done.”
“It’s inspiring to hear people talk about Howard and the legacy of accomplishment he leaves for the Southwest,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of SWEEP and former Boulder County Commissioner. “I am thankful to Howard for enabling me to take over leadership of SWEEP and to be able to take the organization to the next level.”
SWEEP Senior Associate Christine Brinker wrote in the Resolution announcing the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Geller: “[Howard] mentored, guided, motivated, encouraged, and influenced SWEEP staff members, exponentially growing their impacts at SWEEP and beyond. The results of his indefatigable efforts are seen in cleaner air, a more stable climate, lower energy bills for families, decreased water usage, more family-sustaining jobs, improved environmental justice, and longer and healthier lives.”
“Time is not on our side,” said Howard Geller at the celebration last week. “The challenge I see for SWEEP is to get at least twice as much done in half the time or less, compared to the progress we’ve made over the past 20 years. This is a daunting task, but under the leadership of Elise Jones, a very strong staff, Board, and partners, I am confident the organization is prepared to address the pressing challenges we might face. I look forward to watching SWEEP do bigger and better things in the coming years and to also lend a hand where possible.”
SWEEP is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency and clean transportation in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. SWEEP’s efforts have enabled the region to make great strides in advancing energy efficiency over the last two decades. Read more at: swenergy.org/about/sweep-accomplishments.