Melissa Ramsey, right, a field technician with Tucson Electric Power subcontractor Next Phase Energy,  helps install and register a home-energy management system for TEP customer Kathy Baron.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Electric Power Co. residential customers can learn how to cut their power bills by joining a free program that allows customers to closely track their power usage.

Through the new TEP Power Partners Project, advanced monitoring equipment is installed at the customer's meter by program partner Tendril Inc. and used to capture energy-consumption data from customer meters at least every 15 minutes.

That data is analyzed and used to prepare personalized energy-saving strategies, and participants will be able to use Web and mobile dashboards at any time to see how and where energy is being used in their homes.

Participating customers can receive goal-setting and performance-tracking tools, personalized energy-efficiency suggestions and expert advice, TEP says.

The new TEP Power Partners Project is being funded through a $500,000 U.S. Department of Energy Smart Grid Data Access Award and administrative funding from the Governor's Office of Energy Policy, with matching funding from TEP and Colorado-based Tendril.

Initially, TEP and Tendril will seek participation from 700 customers who were part of an earlier Power Partners initiative, plus 1,000 additional customers. TEP customers can sign up for the program by visiting

The utility has about 400 to 500 openings remaining, TEP spokesman Joe Barrios said.

The DOE-awarded program follows a pilot "demand response load control" program TEP launched in 2010 and concluded successfully in October.

Participants in the pilot program were able to monitor and adjust the temperature of their home or business remotely, and allowed TEP system operators to cycle off a customer's air conditioner or adjust the customer's thermostat during periods of peak electric demand, to help the utility manage the load.

More than 750 customers participated in the program, for which each got a $50 billing credit at the program's end, TEP's Barrios said.

TEP exercised its load controls eight times during the program last year, on 100-degree-plus days in June, July, August and September.

Most surveyed participants were positive about the program, Barrios said.

"It was successful, because we demonstrated the technology works, and people were willing to participate," he said. "The thinking is, there is a lot of untapped potential in behavioral programs."

Power Partners signup and details

• To sign up for TEP's Power Partners Project or to view more information, go to

• Up to 1,700 residential TEP customers will be enrolled in the free program, which is scheduled to last for about 15 months.

• Participants must be TEP customers with broadband Internet access who plan to stay in their homes for at least one year. Other conditions may apply.

• Once eligible participants complete an online application and are approved to participate in the program, TEP's contractor, Tendril Inc., will make arrangements to install energy-management equipment in the customer's home. Some customers will be sent self-installation kits.

• Participants will be provided with equipment including a Tendril "Translate" device that transmits data about current consumption levels and a Tendril "Transport" device, which establishes a single-purpose home area network (HAN) that connects TEP and the customer.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at or 573-4181.