Ushering in a new year offers an opportunity to look back at our recent achievements, even as we look forward to building our future. 2022 was a banner year for Tucson Electric Power in many ways.
“We’re proud of the steps and investments we made in 2022 to maintain top-tier reliability and value for our customers,” said Susan Gray, TEP’s President and CEO. “We also achieved important milestones for expanding and securing clean energy resources that bring us closer to our goal of reducing carbon emissions.”
Here’s a look back at our highlights from 2022:
January – Borderlands Begins – Our new Borderlands Wind Project near the Arizona-New Mexico state line completed its first full month of producing clean energy for TEP customers. The 34-turbine wind farm can generate enough power to serve the annual electric needs of more than 26,000 homes.
“The Borderlands Wind Project brings us closer to attaining our renewable energy goals for a cleaner, greener grid,” said Gray.
February – Renewables Represent! – TEP set a sunny new clean energy peak during a brief period on February 22 when more than 95 percent of the power delivered to customers came from wind and solar resources. We hit that mark at 2:18 p.m. when 634 megawatts of energy were being produced from renewable systems.
April – Wanted: New Energy – To keep up with our customers’ increasing energy needs, TEP requested proposals for additional wind and solar generation, energy storage systems and other resources to support our ambitious clean energy and decarbonization goals. We’re seeking an additional 250 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, along with up to 300 MW of “firm capacity” resources that could be used at any time, especially during times of peak demand, to ensure reliable service.
May – Real-Time Renewables – TEP joined California’s Western Energy Imbalance Market (WEIM), allowing us to buy and sell power in real-time at competitive prices to meet the energy needs of our customers. The WEIM helps energy providers exchange resources more efficiently, in intervals as short as 5 minutes, to support increased use of renewable energy.
“Our membership in WEIM provides opportunities for cost savings and lower carbon emissions with real-time access to wind, solar and other renewable resources at an economical cost,” said Erik Bakken, Vice President of Systems Operations and Energy Resources. “Our goal is to keep customer costs as low as possible even as we continue to invest in our infrastructure to enhance system reliability.”
June – Beating the Peak with ‘Pete the Beak’– Facing hotter summers and higher energy demands, TEP enlisted the help of local water conservation legend, Pete the Beak, to remind customers to avoid using lots of power between 3-7 p.m. The public awareness campaign, which borrowed Tucson Water’s popular mascot, asked customers to limit their energy usage during these hours to reduce strain on our grid and help ensure reliable, affordable electric service for all customers. Shifting energy usage to midday and later in the evening also allows us to maximize solar resources, which produce more power during the day. Watch our “Beat the Peak” commercial here.
July – Raptor Ridge Takes Flight – Our latest community-scale solar project, Raptor Ridge, officially began operating to increase the amount of solar energy we harvest from the sun. The array on Valencia Road near Interstate 10 features more than 35,000 photovoltaic modules, enough energy to power about 2,600 homes every year.
The array features an innovative solar tracking system and advanced photovoltaic modules that capture energy reflected off the ground, boosting production by 30 percent. Energy produced by Raptor Ridge helps support our GoSolar Home programs. Watch our ribbon-cutting video here.
July – So Long San Juan – Unit 1 at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico was retired as part of TEP’s transition to less carbon-intensive resources. TEP owned half of the 340-megawatt unit, which was built in the 1970s. TEP also owned a share of San Juan Unit 2, which was retired in 2017.
“As we continue to deliver reliable service to our customers, this closure marks another step in our transition from an earlier era that relied heavily on coal to a future that is more diversified with cleaner resources such as natural gas, renewables and energy storage,” said Mike Sheehan, Vice President of Fuels, Resource Planning and Wholesale Marketing.
July – Transmission is Better Together – TEP announced a partnership with the Western Area Power Administration to rebuild and upgrade approximately 60 miles of the Parker-Davis Project transmission system. The project, which runs through Tucson between our Nogales and Saguaro substations, will replace wood poles from the 1950s with steel monopoles to harden our transmission system and improve reliability. The rebuild will begin in 2023 and take three years to complete.
August – Giving Back– By midyear, we had already donated $870,000 to 78 nonprofit groups with a focus on low-income assistance, anti-domestic violence efforts and environmental stewardship. Our philanthropic efforts, which would end up totaling $1.1 million by year end, included loans to new and fledgling BIPOC businesses as part of our commitment to racial and social justice.
September – Having a Ball – Just in time for the return of students to campus, TEP and the University of Arizona unveiled an interactive display to promote our agreement to deliver clean energy to campus. Custom built by Creative Machines, the machine features red and blue golf balls that race along steel tracks through tiny replica landmarks on the UA campus.
The balls represent clean energy generated at our Wilmot Energy Center solar-plus-storage system south of Tucson and our Oso Grande Wind farm in southeast New Mexico. Energy from both systems is used to power the UA’s main campus under a Large Scale Renewable Energy agreement. Click here for fun facts about the display.
November – Scammers: the Real Turkeys – We joined other utilities nationwide in warning customers about scammers impersonating our employees to intimidate customers and bilk them out of money. Every November, energy providers across the country band together for Scam Awareness Day to raise awareness and help protect customers from potential scams.
Scammers might use the phone, show up in person or target people with online tactics. They often demand immediate disconnection if they don’t receive immediate payment. Customers are advised to never buy prepaid cards for payment. Ignore threatening calls or texts and never share banking or credit card information with an unverified person. For more information about protecting yourself from scams, click here.
December – Solar Flare – A record number of residential customers submitted requests this year to connect new solar arrays to our local energy grid. TEP received more than 10,000 applications for the year – a 39 percent increase over 2021 and the first time in our history that we’ve topped 10,000.
“The extraordinary efforts of our Renewable Energy, Technical Services, Distribution Planning & Engineering, Metering Services, and Customer Service teams allowed us to keep up with the heavy workload to support the deluge of solar applications and installations this year,” said Brenda Stopani, Manager of Environmental and Social Programs & Services. “This demonstrates their commitment to support our customers’ investments in solar energy.”