Energy-efficient lighting rebate program

In May, TEP stopped taking applications for this year's commercial energy-efficiency rebate programs for things like LED lighting upgrades, amid a shortfall in the program budget.

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

More than three dozen community and business groups and more than 300 residents have signed onto letters urging the Arizona Corporation Commission to increase funding for Tucson Electric Power Co. energy-efficiency programs.

In May, TEP stopped accepting applications for its commercial energy-efficiency programs for the remainder of 2017 and reduced rebates for residential efficiency improvements, after facing a $6 million program funding shortfall.

The programs, mandated by the state, are supported by ratepayer surcharges and paid out in customer rebates for efficiency improvements such as lighting and air-conditioning updates under annual program budgets.

Non-profit groups including the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, AARP Arizona, the Arizona Community Action Association, energy-related trade groups, local businesses and residents signed letters to Corporation Commission Chairman Tom Forese, urging the commission to strengthen funding for the TEP efficiency programs.

They contend the programs help participating consumers save money in the on their bills, while saving all ratepayers money in the long run by reducing the need for new power generation.

TEP has said it has no plans to ask the Corporation Commission for more energy-efficiency funding for this year, seeking to avoid an increase in customer surcharges following a general rate hike earlier this year.

But the utility, which is due to file for commission approval of its 2018 energy-efficiency plan and budget by Aug. 1, says it remains committed to the programs going forward.

As of Thursday, no commission discussion or action had been scheduled on the status of this year's TEP program.