You can’t live without power, that’s just a fact of life. We get our power from power companies, but how do you know which companies are good for you?
Have you ever thought beyond how much they cost? Do you know if they want to help the community, the environment, or something else?
This article will break down Tucson Electric Power
How Does Power Get to Customers?
Electrical power starts at the power plant. The plant has a spinning electrical generator. It can be a water wheel in a hydroelectric dam, a large diesel engine, or a gas turbine.
Most cases, it’s a steam turbine. The steam can be made by burning coal, oil, or natural gas. It could also come from a nuclear reactor. Though many energy companies hope to move away from these materials.
Electricity is delivered to customers through a complex network of substations, transformers, and powerlines. This is called the power distribution grid.
Most local grids are interconnected for reliability and commercial purposes, forming larger more dependable networks that enhance the coordination and planning of the electricity supply.
There are 450,000 miles of high voltage power lines and 160,000 miles of overhead transmission lines in the US. These lines connect electrical power plants to homes and businesses.
Power Distribution Grid
It’s made of 4 major parts. There’s individual generators, transmission lines, distribution, and consumer use.
Individual generators are made up of individual power plants, wind turbines, and solar panels. Their locations and distance from users can vary.
They are regulated by the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) or the Public Service Commission (PSC). These are regulatory agencies appointed by the state legislature. Generators can only be built with approval from the PUC or PSC.
Transmission lines are necessary to carry high voltage electricity over long distances and connect electricity generators with consumers. They are either overhead power lines or underground power cables.
Overhead cables aren’t insulated and can be vulnerable to the weather. Though they are less expensive to install than underground power cables.
Like electricity generators, transmission lines must be approved by the state’s PUCs or PSCs before being built. However, wholesale electricity transactions, which are made between regional grid operators, are regulated by a national agency called the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
FERC regulates the electricity grid on a larger scale than PUCs and can resolve disputes among different market participants on the grid. Sometimes they are managed by utilities, but some networks are managed by separate entities known as Independent System Operators (ISOs) or Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs).
These companies facilitate competition among electricity suppliers and give access to transmission by scheduling and monitoring the use of transmission lines.
The distribution network is the system of wire that picks up where the transmission lines leave off. The networks start at the transformers and end at homes, schools, and businesses.
Distribution is regulated on the state level by PUCs and PSCs, who set the retail rates for electricity in each state.
Consumer Use or “Load”
The transmission grid comes to an end when electricity gets to the consumer. This lets you turn on the lights, watch television, or run your dishwasher. How we live our lives affect our demand for electricity by the hour, day, and season, which is why the management of the grid is both complicated and vital for our lives.
How the Grid Works
Since large amounts of energy can’t be stored, electricity must be made as it gets used. The power distribution grid needs to respond quickly to shifting demand and continuously generate and route electricity to where it’s needed most.
This grid is evolving though. Advances in technology lets you connect your own home generated energy through solar panels or wind generators. You can then get paid back by utility companies.
The US federal government is also investing in a smart grid that will use digital technology to manage energy resources better. It will extend the reach of grid access remote source of renewable energy like geothermal power and wind farms.
This is a company, also known as TEP, that provides safe, reliable power to Tucson residents. They give power to over 417,000 customers. They’re also a local leader in community service, volunteerism, and economic development efforts.
Tucson Electric Power’s History
They have been giving power to Arizona residents since 1892, even before Arizona became a state. They used mesquite wood as fuel to power downtown street lights.
Today, they rely on an increasing number of renewable resources to provide service to nearly 1 million residents.
In 2017, they celebrated 125 years of service with special volunteer projects. They had donations drives and community events.
How They Help the Community
Tucson Electric Power has a commitment to helping their communities. They do it through volunteer and financial contributions.
Their focus is on education, the environment, and community assistance to limited income and at risk residents. They also lend support to other causes that engage their active employee volunteers.
They help their community partners feed the hungry, provide shelter, direction, and hope for homeless teens and adults. They also educate youth in science, technology, engineering, and math. Teachers get support because the company gives school supplies, classroom grants, and funding for field trips.
The company also helps to improve quality of life for the elderly, disabled, and limited income residents of Tucson by funding important home repairs that increase safety and comfort.
Finally, they help protect Arizona’s delicate desert ecosystem by working with environmental and wildlife groups to eradicate invasive buffelgrass and to provide safe nesting sites and veterinary care for birds of prey.
Overall, they have given around $1.5 million yearly to local nonprofit groups from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. The money is directed to hundreds of local charities through a deliberative process that hopes to maximize benefits.
They help their community by offering discounts to new and expanding companies. The discount can last up to 5 years.
Their rates are lower than the US average across the board.
Nearly 13% of Tucson Electric Power came from renewable resources in 2017. That’s close to double of the 7% level they had the year before.
They are working hard on reducing their need of coal. TEP anticipates adding 800 megawatts of new renewable energy portfolio to approximately 1,200 megawatts. They are also investing in energy storage, fast ramping natural gas generators, and other facilities needed to support new renewable resources.
This company is recognized worldwide as an industry leader in renewable energy. They are going to continue to invest in innovative, cost effective renewable programs.
The Bright Tucson Community Solar Program lets residential and business customers cover some or all of their electrical needs by purchasing locally generated solar power.
Contributions to TEP’s Voluntary Solar Contribution Program helps fund rooftop solar system installation. They are built by Arizona chapters of Habitat for Humanity.
This company also built their first large solar array more than a decade ago. They created a Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) Implementation Plan in 2016. There have been 2 innovative energy storage facilities built recently. They will help enhance the resiliency of the local electric gird while letting the company study how much systems can support of the expansion of solar power resources.
Renewable Energy in The Desert
If you live in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada, it can pay to have solar panels. Tucson, in particular, averages more than 3,800 hours of sunshine each year.
In the past, if you wanted to generate your own power using renewable resources like solar panels or wind turbines, then you would have to be off the grid. This means disconnected from the power grid run by your local electrical utility.
Though that’s not the case anymore.
A Company Focused on Community
What’s great about small power companies like Tucson Electric Power is that they care about the community. But TEP takes it an extra step, Tucson is not just the home of a bunch of customers, it’s their home too.
That’s why they want to help so much. They don’t have worry about homeless citizens. They don’t have to care about education, but they do. It’s not just a gimmick either. The fact that they donate money from the company and not from customers proves it.
This company is going to endear itself to younger consumers. They tend to care more about company’s motives than previous generations. They are willing to spend more money if the company reflects their values and priorities.
They are also going to stay on top because they are looking to the future with renewable energy.
Not only is it good for the Earth, but consumers care more about it than ever. If community and renewable energy is a priority of yours, it’s worth looking into Tucson Electric Power. You can get power and feel good about giving them your business.