Despite challenging pandemic conditions, TEP completed work at a rapid pace in 2020 to support the construction projects of homeowners, small businesses, contractors and homebuilders.
TEP completed more than 11,000 inspections, new connections and other service orders last year, exceeding the previous three years. More residential customers sought to install private solar arrays, filing more than 4,400 applications for new systems – up from 2,918 applications in 2019.
TEP kept this pace even as designers, field technicians and other employees followed new pandemic safety procedures that allowed for the continued delivery of services while reducing direct contact with customers to minimize potential exposure.
“We were expecting our workload to slow down because of the pandemic, but that hasn’t been the case,” said Nicole SantaCruz, a Transmission and Distribution Supervisor. “We’re working quickly and safely to keep up with the demand.”
Customers completing a construction project at their home or business can call TEP for a free, temporary disconnection of electric service to perform work more safely. After the work is completed and the customer secures any necessary permit or governmental clearance, a TEP worker will return to reconnect service as quickly as possible.
TEP performs about 50 such ‘power kills’ every week. Although disconnections typically are scheduled about 5 days in advance, some can be performed within 24 hours. They can be scheduled ahead of time by calling (520) 918-8300.
When new service is established for a single-family home, commercial building or other new project, TEP uses a comprehensive work process to ensure that service will be safe and reliable. The process typically includes a site visit, engineering and design work, verification of easement, a pre-construction meeting, inspections, underground utility line location, digging, and finally construction, including line and meter installation. Similar steps may be required when customers upgrade their facilities. At new home communities, TEP works with builders to first energize model homes and lots with potential buyers.
“We try to expedite these work orders and meet or often beat our deadlines,” said Jeremy Erlacher, a Transmission and Distribution Supervisor.
TEP energized more than 4,300 new single-family homes and other residential addresses in 2020, exceeding more than 3,800 connections in 2019 and more than 2,800 connections in 2018.
TEP also works regularly with residential and business customers who install new rooftop solar facilities.
“We’ve streamlined the review process and developed new tools to help our customers,” said Francisco Castro, Manager of Energy Programs.
The company now offers online maps to help solar installers and customers determine if a new system can safely interconnect to TEP’s system. In total, more than 28,000 TEP customers have installed solar photovoltaic systems. Each system must satisfy state interconnection requirements to ensure it won’t compromise safety or reliability.
Customers also may request a pre-application report, which TEP typically provides within three business days, to help determine if new projects will pass the interconnection requirement screening process. In December, TEP began working with installers to process interconnection agreements online instead of requiring printed documents.
Visit TEP’s website to learn more about new tools and resources for distributed generation projects.