REMOTELY FROM TUCSON — On Tuesday, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson issued a letter requesting Arizona Public Service Company (APS) analyze and prioritize key programs in its pending energy efficiency budget to assist customers with financial relief during COVID-19 and seasonal weather demands.
For its 2020 budget-year, APS has proposed an energy efficiency budget (also known as “DSM Plan” or “Demand Side Management” Plan) of $51.928 million. The Commission is expected to review and consider the budget this September.
Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and economic realities facing many Arizonans, Commissioner Márquez Peterson sees APS’s pending energy efficiency budget as an opportunity to provide critical economic relief during this challenging time.
“These are unusual times, with many people working and learning from home,” said Commissioner Márquez Peterson. “A new approach to energy efficiency measures that provides the greatest amount of financial relief to customers in need may be necessary this year.”
The key residential customer programs Commissioner Márquez Peterson wants to focus on are the following, which she suggests should receive nearly 100% of the proposed energy efficiency budget, schools and nonprofits exempted:
- Limited-Income Home Weatherization
- SEER-Rated HVAC Qualify Systems
- Programmable Thermostats/ Smart Thermostats
In her letter, Commissioner Márquez Peterson asks APS to provide details regarding (1) the number of families that would be eligible for each program, (2) the number of families that are currently served by the program, (3) the geographic diversity of participants, and (4) a cost/benefit analysis of the proposal to ensure Arizonans will receive more energy savings during expensive peak hours than they are spending on the programs.
As Arizonans have been working to overcome both personal and financial challenges of COVID-19 over the last several months, including extreme temperatures, Commissioner Márquez Peterson recognized that many programs included in APS’s pending energy efficiency budget (such as new HVAC systems and home weatherization) could provide much-needed relief to tens of thousands of households that are currently struggling to pay bills and cope with record temperatures.
According to the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP),
energy efficiency investments in Arizona have helped reduce electricity use by 22 percent and provided an overall economic benefit of $3.7 billion. This is possible in-part because of the large impact weatherization has on homes, as heating and cooling are some of the largest contributors to home energy use. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), rural, low-income, and elderly households spend a larger portion of their income on home energy bills than other utility customers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, weatherization programs and other opportunities that benefit rural customers, low-income communities, and elderly households can provide an average of $283 dollars in savings per household per year.
Commissioner Márquez Peterson also said that many programs that benefit residential customers would be delivered by small businesses and independent contractors, which will help to stimulate the local Arizona economy and drive the state out of the economic downturn surrounding COVID-19.
“We need to provide as much relief as possible, especially as families are facing so many financial challenges during COVID-19. This new approach to energy efficiency will provide a greater return on investment for Arizona families who have already paid into this program,” said Commissioner Márquez Peterson.
Accordingly, Commissioner Márquez Peterson wishes to hear from the public regarding the Commission’s prioritization of the key programs above.
To submit your thoughts and comments to the Commission, click HERE
Enter Company Name: “Arizona Public Service Company
Enter Docket Number: “E-01345A-19-0088
Submit your Opinion: Share your thoughts and opinion on Commissioner Marquez Peterson’s plan to focus energy efficiency funds on customer relief through key residential programs.
Commissioner Márquez Peterson has been critical of surcharges on customers that have funded energy efficiency programs in the past. In May 2020, Commissioner Márquez Peterson proposed to temporarily suspend APS’s DSM surcharge to provide as much financial relief as possible to customers in need, but she did not have her fellow commissioners’ support at the time. The current $51.928 million budget is funded by surcharges that have been collected since January of 2020, prior to a vote by the Commission. Commissioner Márquez Peterson continues to research ways the Commission can incentivize energy efficiency funding that does not require a surcharge.
To view Commissioner Márquez Peterson’s letter to APS, click HERE
About Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson, MBA, IOM:
Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson was appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission by Governor Doug Ducey in May of 2019. She is the first Latina to serve in a statewide seat in the state of Arizona.
Lea has been an entrepreneur in our community for many years and served as the President/ CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber from 2009 until November of 2018. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber serves the business community in the bilingual, bi-cultural region of the Arizona-Sonora border and was recognized as the Hispanic Chamber of the Year in 2013 by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The chamber represents over 1800-member businesses and in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the largest chambers in the State of Arizona.
She ran for Congress in Arizona Congressional District 2 in 2018 and won a competitive primary race though lost the general election. She previously served as the Executive Director for Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL) from 2005 to 2009 and owned and operated a Business Brokerage Firm from 2005 to 2009 and a chain of six gasoline stations / convenience stores with 50 employees from 1998 to 2005 in the Tucson region.
Lea has been appointed to serve on the Arizona Judicial Council which advises the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Finance Authority, the state’s bonding authority. She chairs the Board of Directors of Carondelet’s St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Hospitals in Tucson and is the former Chair of the Pima Association of Governments’ Economic Vitality Committee. She serves on the Boards of the University of Arizona Foundation and the Pima County Workforce Investment Board and is the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Tucson. She also serves on the national board for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
She received her undergraduate degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona, and her Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. She is married with two children.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was established by the state’s constitution to regulate public utilities and business incorporation. The Corporation Commission is Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government. The five Commissioners elected to the Corporation Commission oversee executive, legislative, and judicial proceedings on behalf of Arizonans when it comes to their water, electricity, telephone, and natural gas resources as well as the regulation of securities, pipeline, and railroad safety. To learn more about the Arizona Corporation Commission and its Commissioners, visit