For all residential and business utility consumers and those involved in the energy efficiency industry in the Tucson area, 2015 should be a great year. That’s because the Arizona Corporation Commission approved Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) long-awaited energy efficiency plan on Dec. 18. The newly approved programs under the plan will provide more energy and cost savings to TEP customers than ever before — and are likely to spur new retrofit projects and even more local job growth in Arizona.

Efficiency First Arizona (EFAZ) is a non-profit trade organization of energy efficiency contractors and product suppliers that was founded early in 2014. We represent a growing industry in Arizona that provides residential and commercial building energy efficiency retrofits. Some of our businesses employ veterans who are proud to advance America’s energy security by reducing demand for foreign energy imports through efficiency. We are proud of our members, partners and the utility consumers who spoke up at Arizona Corporation Commission hearings to let commissioners know about the substantial comfort, health, safety and financial benefits these programs generate.

This will be the first time that the commission has approved new energy-saving options for Tucson-area businesses served by TEP since 2008 and the first for residential customers since 2010. All the programs approved by the commission are cost-effective – meaning they passed a rigorous economic analysis to demonstrate that they will provide more in economic benefits for Arizona’s economy than the amount invested. The benefits include reduced energy consumption, reduced peak energy demand and lower water costs.

TEP’s new programs will offer something for virtually everyone, including renters, small businesses, schools and industrial facilities. For example, a new retro-commissioning program will help commercial and industrial customers cut energy waste from their industrial processes, and a new multi-family program will help tenants save on monthly energy costs.

EFAZ applauds the commission for its approval of TEP’s energy efficiency plan. We want to remind customers to check the TEP website for information on the availability of new programs. Now is the time to plan your upgrades or consider new energy-saving lighting for your business. When you do, remember that you will be helping yourself while creating new jobs in Arizona and cutting total energy costs for everyone.

Heather Szymanski is executive director of Efficiency First Arizona. Email her at info@efficiencyfirstAZ.org