Students and educators at 10 local schools are enjoying clearer air and more comfortable classrooms thanks to new heating and cooling systems provided by TEP.

The upgrades were provided at no cost through our customer-funded Commercial Schools Program, creating energy cost savings for selected schools as well as for our entire community.

Eight of the schools received new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems units that will save a combined 1 million kilowatt hours per year.

Advanced Rooftop Controls were installed at the other two schools, enhancing the operation and efficiency of their legacy rooftop units. The new controls help HVAC  systems operate more efficiently and improve air quality while providing maintenance alerts for school employees through compatible software systems.

Together, these upgrades will save the schools an estimated $140,000 annually in energy costs.

“These upgrades support the school environment and free up funds that the schools can use to invest in classroom, teaching and other education costs,” said Edith Garcia, Senior Program Manager of Energy Programs.

In November 2022, TEP sent information to local schools, inviting them to request new systems, said Edith Garcia, Senior Program Manager of Energy Programs. TEP evaluated the schools’ proposals based on campus needs, the number of students, and the age and condition of their existing HVAC units. The selection and installations were completed last year.

Teachers and students at Sopori – a small school in rural Amado that is more than 50 years old – were especially appreciative for the replacement of the old heating and cooling system, said Ramon Andrade, the district’s Director of Facilities. The previous HVAC system had to work double time to get to the appropriate temperature. Because Amado is colder than other areas of Pima County, the classrooms were often chillier and took longer to heat up in the winter.

“It’s day and night. The school couldn’t be happier,” Andrade said. “The teachers were so grateful they could get units at their school.”

Additional schools will be selected for new rooftop units, rooftop controls, and energy-efficient lighting this year. TEP recently solicited applications from schools and is finalizing the list of selected campuses.

The program’s costs – $1.6 million to date – are funded by customers through a surcharge that supports energy efficiency programs approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. All approved programs have been proven cost-effective for participants as well as customers at large, as the energy savings reduce TEP’s long-term need for new energy resources that contribute to higher rates.

The Commercial Schools Program extends our longtime efforts to help schools save energy and money. Since 2016, TEP has provided energy-efficient lighting and installation at no cost to select, qualifying schools. Learn more about TEP’s energy-efficiency programs for schools.

The 2023 school recipients included:

  • Flowing Wells Unified School District: Laguna and Richardson elementary schools
  • Tucson Unified School District: Blenman and Wheeler elementary schools
  • Sahuarita Unified School District: Sopori Elementary and Walden Grove High schools
  • Sunnyside Unified School District: Apollo Middle School and Los Ranchitos campus
  • Charter schools: Mexicayotl Academy and Edge High School
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