Author: Monica Pugno

Apprentice dreamed of being lineman like his dad

From a young age, Trico apprentice lineman Anthony Anaya dreamed of being a lineman. His father, Dan, has worked at Trico for 30 years.

When Anthony was 4-years-old, he grabbed his dad’s climbing gear out of his truck and put it on.

“I knew from day one that this is what I wanted to do,” Anthony said. “I grew up around here (Picture Rocks, Avra Valley). I’d see the linemen wave as they drove down the road in their bucket trucks. I saw how our Members looked up to my dad with respect. It intrigued me to want to be lineman.”

When Anthony was younger, he also wanted to pursue a baseball career. He played second base for a club team from 8-years-old until 14-years-old. He played baseball in high school at Marana High. He still plays ball for an all-men’s league at Sports Park.

“But the more I thought about it, I knew baseball wouldn’t take me far,” he said. “It took money to make money. I realized being a lineman is what I wanted to do.”

Anthony started at Trico as a Groundman in September 2020. He is now in the first year of a four-year lineman apprenticeship. Anthony said he got emotional when he found out he was hired by Trico.

“For years, it’s what I dreamed of,” he said. “It was a dream come true. I still feel the same way. It’s a great work environment. We’re like brothers out there. Everyone works safe because we all want to get home safe.”

Working safely is one of the many lessons Anthony learned from his father.

“He has taught me to double check everything, to work safe and work hard,” Anthony said.

Dan started at Trico in May of 1992 in the Auto Shop and was a Meter Reader. In April 2003, he became a Journeyman Lineman after a four-year apprenticeship. During his apprenticeship, he learned that Trico and its Members come first. Family comes second. He hopes Anthony and the other young lineworkers understand what it takes to be a good lineman. Over the years, Dan missed some of Anthony’s baseball games, birthdays and holiday gatherings because he was on call.

“Some people dream of becoming a lineman and some people do it for the money,” Dan said. “I told Anthony to do it because it’s what you want to do, not for the money. I’m happy (he wants to be a lineman). It’s nerve-wrecking. I want him to do it the right way and for the right reasons. I try to teach him some tricks. I test him on different scenarios.”

Dan said what makes a good lineman is being able to do it all – overhead and underground power line work – and knowing the whole system and how to troubleshoot.

“I know the system in my head,” Dan said. “I want Anthony to be like that. It’s more than just knowing how to do overhead line work. It’s a credit to Trico that our linemen know how to do all aspects of power line work.”

Anthony knows being a lineman won’t be easy. He understood why his dad couldn’t be there all the time when he was growing up.

“He was the only one working in the family because my parents agreed that my mom would stay home and raise my sister and I,” Anthony said. “My mom did a great job raising us. I understood that he was trying to give us the best life he could. He’s always been dedicated to Trico and his job. It’s a lifestyle. I know at times it’s going to be hard. That I’m going to miss holidays and birthdays.”

Anthony said his father would go out of his way to make up for missing occasions, which wasn’t necessary.

“He was there for me when I was growing up,” Anthony said. “After work, he’d be tired, but he still tried to make a baseball game, play catch or ride dirt bikes. I’m really proud of him, what he did for me and my sister. He always had our back. He put his body through a lot. In his eyes and mine, it was for a good cause.”

Anthony hopes his son, Hudson who is 10-months-old, will want to be a lineman and carry on the family tradition.

“There are several linemen in my family,” he said. “My girlfriend’s family are linemen too. There is a lot of stuff my dad taught me that I want to teach my son. I will teach him to work safely, work smart and think ahead.”

To all the amazing fathers out there, we hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day.

You have the power with Pay As You Go – a prepaid energy solution

This month I’d like to talk about one of our rate options. Trico’s Pay As You Go program is as simple as it sounds: Members pay for electricity before it is used, then use the electricity until the credit expires.

A terrific analogy for Pay As You Go is putting gas in your car. Say you only have $30 for the week to pay for gasoline. You drive down to the station, pump in $30 and drive off. As you drive during the week, what happens? You monitor the gauge and make sure each trip is necessary. If you drive too much, you burn up your $30 before the week is out. Literally. By checking the gauge throughout the week, you became more prudent with your gas use and made informed decisions on when and how much to use.

Now let’s transfer that analogy to your account with Trico. Normally, you would get a bill after you have used the electricity. Sometimes it comes as a shock. “How could I possibly have used so much electricity?” Pay As You Go is designed to ease – and hopefully eliminate – that shock. Let’s take a look at how it works.

Pay As You Go is a self-managed program. You purchase electricity before you use it. Payments can be made when you want – online, over the phone, on the SmartHub app or in person at Trico’s office. When your account runs low, you will get an alert by email, text or phone call.

With Pay As You Go, Members will be able to avoid deposits, due dates and reconnect fees.

Members are responsible for keeping up to date on their account and should ensure that it always has a credit balance. Members can access their prepay account balances and monitor their usage online at trico.smarthub.com.

Is Pay As You Go the right choice for you?

While Pay As You Go is a great program, it may not be suitable to all Members and is not available to non‑residential, time‑of-use, net metering, Distributed Generation (DG) Energy Export, or critical load (medical necessity) customers or for those participating in the Budget Billing program. Pay As You Go works best for Members who want to take control of their electric account and energy usage. By monitoring your consumption on a regular basis, you will notice patterns in your day-to-day usage and learn how to conserve energy. Monitoring and controlling daily usage can help keep those electric costs down.

Statistics indicate prepay electricity programs help lower electric consumption due to Member’s awareness of usage patterns.

Pay As You Go teaches the value of electricity, what uses kilowatts in your home, provides absolute control over how much you pay and helps you reduce your energy use. It is a tremendous way to power your life.

To join Pay As You Go, contact a Trico representative at 520-744-2944 or click here to sign up online.

Let’s beat the peak together to save energy & money

Conserving energy during the hottest period of the day, between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., reduces costs and helps avoid strain on the grid, so we can provide safe, reliable energy in a cost-effective manner.

Housework hiatus

Avoiding peak energy costs is a good reason to put some chores on hold, at least until power demand dips. Consider running the washer, dryer and dishwasher during non-peak hours.

Love 78

Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can play a huge part in controlling your energy use year-round.

At 78 degrees, most people are comfortable outside, so why not indoors? Most people aren’t sensitive enough to notice much of a difference in air temperature whether the thermostat is set at 73 or raised to 78. But the closer your air conditioner setting is to the outdoor temperature, the less your unit will run.

Each degree of temperature difference represents a percentage of the total cooling load. That means that when temperatures are in the high 90s or 100s, you could reduce your cooling demand by 10 to 15 percent for each degree above 75 degrees.

Fans offer an economical alternative to air conditioning on mild days and they can pitch in for comfort as temperatures climb. Set ceiling fans to blow air downward (counter clockwise) to get the most value in your cooling zone.

Central air conditioning can use as much as one kwh of electricity for each 12-minute cycle of cooling. A ceiling fan can operate for about 13 hours on the same amount of electricity. Turn off fans when you leave a room, because they cool people, not space.

Kitchen comfort

Appliances on your countertops or stashed in your pantry could keep you cooler and use less energy. Microwaves use about 60 percent as much energy as full-size ovens, and a toaster oven or induction cooker consumes about half as much power and keep kitchens cooler.

Share the space

Getting control of your energy use to reduce your home’s overall demand can be really challenging when you have to consider the entire home, so bring back family time to beat the peak.

LCD televisions generally use 60 percent as much electricity as comparably sized plasma models. One laptop computer uses about 20 percent as much power as a desktop computer and monitor.

A video game console consumes about 200 watts of power. One system pressed into service for spirited intramural competition between family members in one room uses about a third of the power of three players engaged in online games around the house.

Finish the space with energy-efficient LED fixtures for lighting, a couple sets of headphones and a few rechargeable power boosters for the family’s handheld devices. You’ll have a cool and fun place to spend a few hours with the family.

Thank you Director Pyers for your service

The Trico Board and Trico’s staff would like to thank Director Jim Pyers for his 9 years of service on the Board.

“Jim has been an invaluable source of knowledge about the electric utility industry and his wisdom and humor will be missed,” Board President Lawrence Hinchliffe said.

Jim joined the Board in 2013. He is a retired Tucson Electric Power executive with over 35 years of experience in electric utility operations and engineering. He and his wife, Judy, have five children, 19 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Kevin McCarthy was elected by the Membership to replace Jim.

We are focused on these six priorities

Like every industry, the energy business is changing. I am excited to be able to say that Trico is constantly ‘working on the business’ so that we can not only deliver a great value today, but even greater value tomorrow.

Your Board and management met for a couple days late in 2021 to discuss trends affecting our members and industry. This included an examination of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It was an exhausting, and at the same time exhilarating couple of days because the outcome was a set of strategic priorities which will guide us the next few years.

These priorities are:

Member Loyalty             We will be developing products, options, services and events that meet the individual and collective needs of the membership.

Advanced Grid                We will be pursuing advanced grid technology to increase reliability and to meet member’s needs.

Power Supply                 We will be securing reliable and cost-effective power supply.

Competitive Mindset      We will be enhancing the value Trico provides in the marketplace.

Strategic Partners          We will be developing and enhancing relationships with strategic partners.

Workforce                      We know that we need to attract, develop, and retain a high-achieving and diverse workforce.

We are in the midst of an energy transition where instead of forecasting demand and building an operating centralized power plants to match these load requirements, we are gradually shifting to forecasting available generation (dependent on the weather) and helping the cooperative and our members manage their load by offering load management products/services and time varying price signals. And, generation technologies are becoming more distributed, sometimes even behind our meters in member’s homes and businesses.

As we go forward, we will be reporting on many projects that will work on helping us accomplish one of the above-mentioned priorities. It’s all in an effort to increase the satisfaction levels you have with your cooperative. Good things are continuing to happen at Trico Electric Cooperative.

Construction continues at Chirreon Solar & Battery Facility

Trico employees and contractors from SOLV Energy continue working at the Chirreon Solar and Battery Storage Facility, located on Edwin Road west of North Oracle Road within Pinal County.

Chirreon will have over 40,000 photovoltaic solar panels, and the 15-megawatt battery storage system will be capable of discharging 30 MWh of energy. The facility will help Trico delay the cost of transmission and distribution upgrades and manage load in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Chirreon is projected to be in service by summer 2022. Once operational the Chirreon facility will produce more than 30,000 megawatt-hours of energy each year, or enough to power about 3,000 average residential homes in the Trico service territory.

Spring into savings with these energy conservation tips

There are many ways to reduce your household’s energy use, ranging from simple behavioral adjustments to extensive home improvements.

Here are some ways to conserve energy and save electricity in your home:

  • When streaming content, use the smallest device that makes sense for the number of people watching. Avoid streaming on game consoles, which use 10 times more power than streaming through a tablet or laptop. Streaming content with electronic equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR® rating will use 25% to 30% less energy than standard equipment.
  • When was your cooling system last serviced? Most manufacturers recommend an annual tune up for your home’s cooling system. Spring is a great time to schedule this service so you can beat the summer rush when the pros are busiest. A qualified professional can check the amount of refrigerant, accuracy of the thermostat, condition of belts and motors and other factors that can greatly impact the efficiency of your system.
  • Energy efficiency can have a major impact on lowering your monthly energy bills. For example, upgrading to energy-efficient LED bulbs would save the average household about $100 each year. ENERGY STAR appliances – such as refrigerators, dishwashers and water heaters – also have considerable savings over their lifetimes. An energy-efficient clothes washer, for example, could save you about $50 each year on energy and water bills.
  • There are also no-cost changes to your behaviors that can help you save each month. For example, standby power – the electricity used when appliances are turned “off” or in standby mode – costs the average household about $100 each year. By unplugging devices (or using a power strip) when not in use, you can immediately start saving on your bills – same with turning off lights or adjusting the thermostat by a few degrees.
  • Smart thermostats learn your heating and cooling habits and automatically adjust to your preferences. They can also be programmed or adjusted remotely using a Wi-Fi connected device, such as your phone or tablet. Homeowners can save an average of 10-12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills.

Click here for more energy saving tips.

Know what’s below: Steps for safe digging

Did you know utility lines are typically buried just a few inches below the ground? If you’re planning an outdoor project that requires any digging, please remember to call 811 at least three business days before you start. Or you can submit a request online by visiting www.arizona811.com.

After you call 811 or submit your request online, all affected utilities will be notified of your intent to dig. It may take the utilities a few days to get to your request, so please be patient. The affected utilities will send someone out to mark the buried lines with paint or flags. Before you break ground, confirm that all the utilities have responded to your request.

The graphic below shows the proper placement of trees and shrubs. Please keep landscaping at least 10 feet away from padmount transformers.

By taking this important step before you break ground on your project, you can help protect not only yourself but our community. Disrupting an underground utility line can interrupt service, cause injuries and cost money to repair, so remember to call 811 first and know what’s below.

Thank you for attending the 2022 Trico Annual Meeting

Photos by Roni Ziemba

First in-person Trico Annual Meeting in 3 years is a success

Thank you to the more than 500 Members who attended Trico’s Annual Meeting on April 9 at Casino del Sol Resort and many others who watched the meeting live on Facebook.

The 2022 Annual Meeting was Trico’s first in-person meeting in three years. It was great to see so many Members come out and enjoy all that there was to offer. Members were able to purchase trees at a discounted rate of $10 and attend workshops to learn more about electric vehicles, SmartHub and energy saving tips. Members also had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the benefits of Trico Membership.

“Great meeting, thank you to Trico for all you do,” Narda McClain commented on Facebook. “Breakfast was nice too!”

Members also voted for their Board of Directors. Marsha Thompson ran unopposed in District 4 (Sahuarita, Green Valley) and was reelected for a three-year term. There were three candidates running in District 7 (SaddleBrooke, Mt. Lemmon): Jim Ansell, Mark Kimble and Kevin McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy was elected to replace Jim Pyers, who is retiring after nine years.

Board President Lawrence Hinchliffe thanked Mr. Pyers for his years of service on the Board. “He has been an invaluable source of knowledge about the electric utility industry and his wisdom and humor will be missed.”

Trico CEO and General Manager Brian Heithoff thanked every Trico Member who took the time to come out and participate in the governance of your cooperative. “This is part of what makes a cooperative different and we thank you for coming out today.”

Mr. Heithoff gave an update of Trico’s finances. “2021 was another good year for Trico in which we maintained a strong balance sheet and continued to see steady growth in new members,” he said.

During 2021, Trico returned $5.1 million to Members through the Power Cost Adjuster.

“We are happy to report that Trico is in good financial shape for 2022 and beyond,” Mr. Heithoff said. “This allowed Trico to retire $3.8 million of capital credits for the benefit of our Members.”

In his President’s Report, Mr. Hinchliffe talked about Trico’s future.

“As a Board, we are excited to help guide Trico into the future as we develop new ways to provide power, like the Chirreon Solar and Battery Facility, while continuing to focus on our community,” Mr. Hinchliffe said. “As a cooperative and a non-profit, our motivation is doing what is best for the Members and providing power when and where it is needed.”

In his Manager’s Report, Mr. Heithoff talked about how the energy business is changing and what Trico is doing to meet the needs of our diverse membership.

“We are constantly working to improve and are ‘working on the business’ so that we can not only deliver a great value today, but even greater value tomorrow,” he said. “Our long-term vision, and therefore our aspiration, is to become your energy provider, and partner, of choice.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, we held a raffle drawing for prizes, including Trico bill credits, an iPad, Amazon Echo Dot, TV, a one-night stay at Casino del Sol Resort, and a 2009 Chevy Silverado 1500 truck.

Charles and Lynda Schutt were the grand prize winners of the truck. They have been Trico Members for three years but were Members of a cooperative in Idaho for many years.

“This is our first time coming to the Annual Meeting,” Mr. Schutt said. “It was a very good presentation. I’ll come to another Annual Meeting. It was very professional. I wasn’t expecting to win a prize.”

“We love Trico,” Mrs. Schutt said. “It’s the easiest of all the utilities to call and pay the bill over the phone.”

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