Tucson Electric Power is working to improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable residents in three primary ways – through philanthropic investments, employee volunteerism and assistance programs for limited-income customers.
This year, TEP plans to contribute more than $700,000 to local nonprofit groups that provide community assistance – services that include feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and ensuring children and families receive basic health care.
In addition to supporting community assistance, TEP sponsors efforts to improve education and protect the environment. Together, our contributions in these three focus areas total $1.6 million annually. The funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates.
Community assistance takes many forms. For example, TEP helps El Rio Community Health Center provide children with vaccinations that are recommended for good health and required for school attendance.
“With funding from TEP, El Rio Health is able to vaccinate more than 20,000 children free of charge, protecting them from disease and keeping them healthy,” says El Rio’s Executive Director Brenda Goldsmith.
TEP also sponsors programs that address homelessness through organizations such as Old Pueblo Community Services and Our Family Services. TEP’s $30,000 contribution to Our Family Services last year helped up to 120 struggling youth and families transition from temporary to permanent housing.
“TEP helps us offer a new beginning to families who have experienced homelessness. Their support pays for things like security deposits, household items and rent,” said Our Family Services’ Chief Development Officer Em Martin Brott. “Having a safe place to call home removes significant barriers to employment and empowers folks for long-term self-sufficiency.”
TEP funds also help feed the hungry. We support local food banks as well as Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona, which delivers meals to homebound and disabled seniors. Regular, nutritious meals help individuals improve their overall health, better manage their illnesses, and reduce complications and hospital admissions.
TEP’s employee volunteers support many charitable organizations and causes. About one-third of our employees volunteer their time and talents and, collectively, donate thousands of hours each year to organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity Tucson and the Primavera Men’s Shelter.
Through volunteer work with these groups, our employees have helped limited-income families by installing free smoke detectors in nearly 400 Flowing Wells homes. We’ve also helped build new homes for deserving families and cleared a site for the construction of a new low-income housing development in the Amphi neighborhood.
“TEP volunteers are on the ground helping to build and empower a stronger community,” said Joshua J.J. Swinney, Habitat’s Construction Director. “The partnership between our organizations is leading the way toward a more just and compassionate community.”
Limited-Income Assistance Programs
TEP offers several programs and partners with local and state agencies to assist customers struggling to pay their utility bills.
Eligible customers can receive discounted electric rates through our Lifeline program. More than $3.2 million in assistance was granted to about 15,000 local households last year.
Customers also can contribute to our Help with Emergency Energy Relief Operation (HEERO) program to assist other customers who are unable to pay their bills because of emergency situations or hardships. TEP pays the administrative costs for this program so that 100 percent of the donated funds go directly to help families in need. Over HEERO’s 20-plus year history, more than $3 million has been donated to assist almost 700 families a year.
TEP also supports other local, state and federal agencies that provide assistance to limited-income families. Working closely with the Tucson Urban League and Pima County, TEP provides free weatherization assistance to limited-income residents.
“Our weatherization program gives residents tips on how to conserve energy and save money,” said Francisco Castro, who manages TEP’s Demand Side Management Programs and Services. “We also provide free energy-efficiency retrofits, such as improved insulation, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and caulking and weather-stripping to qualified families.”
The Urban League and the county’s Community Action program serve as the local administrators for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides funds to qualified families to help them pay their cooling and heating bills.
TEP contributes more than $100,000 annually in unclaimed utility deposits to the Home Energy Assistance Fund (HEAF). The fund is administered by Wildfire (formerly the Arizona Community Action Association), a nonprofit advocacy group that assists lower-income residents and works to end poverty. HEAF distributes funds on a one-time basis to eligible customers to pay for heating/cooling system repairs or a utility deposit or bill.
“Giving back is part of our company culture,” said Wendy Erica Werden, TEP Manager of Community Investment and Philanthropy. “As long as there are needs in our community, we will respond to create a stronger, healthier and more vibrant community for all residents.”