Plan Expands COVID-19 Recovery Programs and School Offerings
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and Arizona PIRG Education Fund praised Chairwoman Lea Marquez Peterson, Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, Commissioner Anna Tovar, and Commissioner Jim O’Connor – utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission – for voting yesterday to expand programs and services to help Arizonans save energy and money on their electricity bills.
Under the expanded energy efficiency plan that regulators approved, customers of Arizona Public Service Company (APS) will gain access to incentives and services to fix broken air conditioners, replace inefficient water heaters, install smart thermostats, and otherwise cut energy waste. Regulators also extended special emergency financial relief for low-income customers and businesses and residents economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, regulators authorized two special initiatives: (1) A program to increase fresh air ventilation in schools, shelters, and nonprofits by installing advanced controls for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units; and (2) A program to bring energy-saving services to Navajo and Hopi tribal members.
Approval of the plan was championed by major businesses, consumer, low income, and small business advocates, efficiency groups, tribal nonprofits, and the utility.
“Energy efficiency is a phenomenal return on investment. By eliminating energy waste, we can save money for everyone by avoiding the need for expensive power plants that can cost ratepayers billions of dollars,” said Ellen Zuckerman, Director of the Utility Program for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “At a time when far too many Arizonans are making painful economic decisions and falling behind on their electricity bills, it’s essential that we offer them new and improved opportunities to save energy. Thankfully, yesterday’s action by utility regulators does just that.”
Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, stated, “Whether impacted by COVID-19, extreme heat, or other circumstances, APS ratepayers need relief. The Commission’s vote recognizes that energy efficiency provides an opportunity to save money on monthly electric bills for ratepayers that take advantage of program offerings as well as for other ratepayers through the avoidance of new, costly utility infrastructure.”
The organizations applauded utility regulators for their vote which recognizes energy efficiency as Arizona’s least expensive way to meet energy needs, while supporting local job creation, saving water, and reducing harmful air pollution.