Ushering in a new year offers an opportunity to look back at our recent achievements, even as we look forward to shaping the future.
“2023 was a banner year for Tucson Electric Power in many ways,” said Susan Gray, TEP’s President and CEO. “In looking back at key milestones over the past 12 months, we’re proud that the investments we’ve made allowed us to to maintain top-tier reliability and value for our customers, while also advancing our work toward a cleaner, greener grid.”
Here’s a look back at the highlights:
January: A 30 Percent Drop in Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Carbon dioxide emissions from our conventional power plants dropped 32 percent between 2019 and 2022, reflecting powerful progress toward our clean energy goals. The reductions reflected the replacement of retiring coal resources with cleaner energy as part of our plan to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2035.
Our plans call for the retirement of Units 1 and 2 at our coal-fired Springerville Generating Station in 2027 and 2032, contributing to an anticipated reduction of more than 50 million tons of CO2 by 2035.
February: EV Plan Gets Green Light
Our roadmap for driving EV adoption, building an equitable charging infrastructure and preparing our grid to support vehicle charging got the green light from state regulators.
Our three-year plan builds on our previous EV offerings by adding innovative programs that will increase accessibility to electric transportation and promote awareness of EV technology and its benefits. It also aligns with our ongoing transition to cleaner, less carbon-intensive energy resources.
Among the new initiatives: a grid impact analysis study, informational kiosks at car dealerships and support for school bus electrification.
March: Embracing Equity
Women at our company were active in the community to honor International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Our Fleet Supervisor, Julie Gomez, planned the first Women in Utility Fleet gathering at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference and gave the opening remarks. Meanwhile, member of our Women in Energy resource group grabbed hammers and paintbrushes as they volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. Watch the video.
April: Opening Doors of Opportunity
TEP received recognition for helping customers who had fallen behind on their electric bills.
We received honorable mention in the 2023 Edison Electric Institute Advocacy Excellence Awards for our efforts, which included knocking on doors to connect vulnerable customers with federal resources to provide relief. Ultimately, as the result of the overall campaign, nearly 33,800 customers across TEP and our sister UniSource territories received more than $16 million in federal assistance to clear past due bills.
May: Honoring Teachers
We welcomed six local teachers to temporary summer jobs at TEP, where they gained practical industry experience to take back to their students. The placements were made through the Teachers in Industry program, a partnership between the UA College of Education and Tucson Values Teachers, a local nonprofit group. TEP has participated in the program since its inception in 2010.
We also surprised Roskruge Bilingual Magnet teacher Carmen Griffin with a certificate of appreciation and a gift basket for her participation in our free Bright Students program, which teaches students how energy is made and how energy efficiency can protect natural resources. Carmen scheduled 37 presentations over her tenure as a teacher.
June: 10 Years of Reliable Service
The looming summer marked 10 years of providing top-tier service to customers as one of the most reliable electric service providers in the country.
Since 2012, we have consistently achieved top-quartile reliability scores when compared to other energy providers, based on the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), a metric that represents the average length of time a customer is without service due to weather, maintenance, equipment failure and other factors.
Over the last decade, the average TEP customer was without service for about an hour each year – about 14 minutes less than the average score for utilities in the top quartile. TEP maintained favorable reliability scores in recent years despite record-setting heat waves, storms, supply chain disruptions and other challenges.
July: Recovering from Storms. Celebrating Lineworkers
We all know the summer monsoon season can be incredibly destructive. TEP typically replaces about 100 storm-damaged poles each monsoon season, from July to August.
That changed this month after three back-to-back storms toppled power poles, uprooted massive trees and damaged buildings. TEP ended up replacing 160 poles in just two weeks.
Our lineworkers and other teams launched into emergency response mode, working around the clock in the sweltering heat, as safely and quickly as they could to restore power. Here’s a video that highlighted some of their efforts this month.
August: You Helped Us Defeat the Peak
As Tucson boiled through the third hottest summer on record, thousands of local residents participated in a pilot program that rewards customers for turning up the thermostat a few degrees when it matters most.
Thanks to 6,900 customers who participated in nine events over the summer, we were able to collectively save enough energy to power the equivalent of roughly 2,300 homes. That’s important since demand for electricity can strain the grid when summer temperatures climb.
The TEP Smart Rewards program demonstrated that smart thermostats can be a powerful tool for energy management and environmental sustainability. Customers always retain control over their thermostat and may opt out of an event at any time by simply adjusting their thermostats.
September: E-bike Rebate Program
Going electric isn’t just for cars. E-bikes are a convenient way to get around, with several advantages, including:
- Saving thousands of dollars per year on fuel and maintenance by reducing daily car trips
- Providing a convenient and reliable option for running errands or making short commutes
- Reducing your carbon footprint and air pollutants
We’re now offering rebates for eligible residential customers who purchase a qualifying e-bike. Customers meeting low-income eligibility thresholds are eligible for a $600 rebate. Those who don’t meet income requirements are eligible for a $100 rebate.
October: “Charging Ahead” with a Cleaner, Greener Grid
This month, we announced plans to build a large battery energy storage system in southeast Tucson to help satisfy customers’ everyday energy needs with abundant, low-cost solar energy.
TEP’s Roadrunner Reserve system will serve as the largest energy storage system in our portfolio and among the largest in Arizona. The 200-megawatt (MW) system will be able to store 800 megawatt hours of energy, enough to serve approximately 42,000 homes for four hours when deploying at full capacity. The system is scheduled to begin operation in summer 2025.
Battery systems help TEP and other utilities make better use of wind and solar resources by “shifting” their output to periods of greatest need. We expect to charge the grid-connected battery in the morning and early afternoon, when solar resources are most productive, then deliver stored energy later in the day when customers’ energy use is typically highest.
November: Target: Net Zero Carbon Emissions
We finalized an updated Integrated Resource Plan this month that sets a new aspirational goal: net zero direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan also highlights how we’ll accelerate our clean energy expansion to support anticipated growth and maintain affordable, reliable service over the next 15 years.
TEP expects to add 2,240 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar generation and 1,330 MW of energy storage by 2038, as well as 400 MW of natural gas turbines to help offset coal plant retirements and support higher use of variable wind and solar energy. This balance was determined to be the most cost-effective way to maintain reliability while achieving an 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2035, a goal set in TEP’s 2020 IRP.
You can join us. Earn a free T-shirt, cape or cap when you become a “net zero hero” by taking steps to shift or save energy to support a more sustainable future for our community.
December: Giving Back
We haven’t tied a bow on the year just yet, but we’ve so far donated more than $1.3 million to 116 nonprofit groups focusing on community vitality, K-12 education, environmental stewardship, and social justice issues.
Our philanthropic efforts, which also included an additional focus on housing stability to help prevent homelessness, are funded with company resources, not with customers’ rates.