It takes a lot of hardware, planning and money to make sure when you turn on a light, you actually get some light. Now Tucson voters are being asked to decide if they want to approve a 25 year deal that decides a lot of how Tucson Electric will deliver power.
Voters need to extend a franchise agreement between Tucson Electric and the City of Tucson so TEP can continue to use city rights of way for poles, wires and other equipment.
The Prop 412 vote to renew the franchise is May 16th but its an all mail ballot, and the ballots are circulating now.
Mayor Romero, and a long list of politicians, business and community groups support Prop 412.
TEP says the agreement and the three-quarter percent boost over the 2.25% franchise fee voters pay now will put about a dollar a month on the average bill, and give the utility the ability to build more capacity and reliability for the future.
Joe Barrios of TEP says, if you think about Midtown, there are some older neighborhoods, maybe some of those homes when they were constructed. They had swamp coolers, but now they have air conditioning systems. You know, we also see the potential for greater energy needs in the future with EVs and other, you know, generally growing demands.
To carry that capacity TEP wants to run a large new line through neighborhoods north of University of Arizona. Residents objected to the original plan to put the lines on tall towers.
The plan in Prop 412 devotes a share of the increased franchise fee to the added cost of running the lines underground.
Judith Anderson of Tucson Climate Coalition says running the lines underground benefits UA, Banner Hospital and the neighborhoods nearby, so they should pay the extra cost, not every Tucsonan who pays a bill to TEP.
There’s an Arizona state law that says anyone who wants an underground line will pay for it. But that’s not being applied in this case. Instead, all of us rate payers are being asked to pay for it.
Anderson says the existing franchise agreement has three years left, so why not take time to write a new proposal that she says will be better for ratepayers and the environment.
TEP says the current proposal is a good one, and further delay will force the utility to make interim repairs that could cost ratepayers more in the long run.
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