If you asked an environmentalist, a business owner and a low-income resident what the next generation grid should look like, you’d likely get different answers.

That’s exactly why we’re asking a diverse group of stakeholders and local leaders to help us design a plan to satisfy our community’s future energy needs.

With more than a dozen members, TEP’s Resource Planning Advisory Council will meet over the next several months to evaluate potential energy options and provide input that will help guide TEP’s resource decisions over the next 15 years. Members include residential and business customers, environmentalists, low-income advocates, local government officials, educators, and representatives of the solar and electric vehicle (EV) industries.

“We’re excited to begin working with this diverse, knowledgeable group, sharing information about the resource opportunities and challenges we face,” said Lee Alter, a TEP energy resource planner who hosted the group’s first meeting last month.  “The community’s feedback is a critical part of this process. We appreciate the time and energy the members are contributing to help achieve our sustainability goals as we work to maintain reliable, affordable electric service for customers.”

Our community’s energy needs are growing, with new peak energy demand records set in both 2020 and 2021. TEP is working to meet those needs with a cleaner energy mix. TEP’s 2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) outlined our ambitious, achievable plan to provide more than 70 percent of our power from wind and solar resources while reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2035.

During last month’s meeting, TEP’s planning team offered an overview of current market conditions, including rising energy costs, coal supply issues, drought-related risks to hydropower and other challenges. The team also described TEP’s need to secure additional energy resources in coming years to maintain reliability, especially during the hottest months of summer.

Input from the advisory council will be incorporated into TEP’s next IRP, which assesses current and future energy needs while identifying potential ways to meet them. Our plan will include at least 10 potential resource portfolios that consider several factors such as cost, emissions reduction, and savings from energy efficiency programs. The plan will be filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission by August 2023.

By then, TEP will be well on its way to adding even more clean energy and capacity to its portfolio. We issued an all-source request for proposals (ASRFP)  in April 2022, seeking new wind and solar generation, energy storage systems and other resources that can commence service by May 1, 2025. The company received more than 100 proposals, the majority of which combine solar and battery energy storage. We plan to announce the outcome of the ASRFP as part of our 2023 filings.

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