If you live in Picture Rocks, Avra Valley, you can run for the Board

Are you interested in representing your friends and neighbors in District 3 (Avra Valley, Picture Rocks and Three Points) on the Trico Board of Directors? Director Nick Buckelew has retired from the Board, and there is one year left on his term. We are seeking qualified candidates to fill the seat.

One of the many benefits of a non-profit cooperative, like Trico, is that it is owned and governed by you, our Members. Our Board of Directors are Trico Members who have been elected to govern and direct the business of the Cooperative.

As a Trico Member, you too are eligible to serve on the Board. The current seat available is in Trico’s District 3, which represents Avra Valley, Picture Rocks and Three Points. Click here for a more detailed map.

Pursuant to Trico’s Bylaws and Policies, Trico’s Board will be appointing a Member to fill the open seat for one year. Directors typically serve a three-year term, and the appointed Member will have the option to run for re-election at the end of the year.

HOW TO APPLY TO BE ON THE BOARD?

Complete the Board of Director Candidate Bio Form and return it to Roberta Lopez-Suter at rlsuter@trico.coop by May 23, 2022.

You can also submit any questions to Roberta Lopez-Suter at rlsuter@trico.coop or call 520-744-2944.

Click here for more information about serving on the Board.

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.”

The power behind your power

You’ve likely noticed Trico’s crews out and about, working on power lines and other electrical equipment in our service areas. It’s no secret that a lineworker’s job is tough—but it’s a job that’s essential and must be done, often in challenging conditions. This month, as we celebrate Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 11, I thought I’d share some interesting facts about electric lineworkers with you.

The work can be heavy, in more ways than one. The equipment and tools that a lineworker carries while climbing a utility pole can weigh up to 50 pounds. That’s the same as carrying six gallons of water. Speaking of utility poles, lineworkers are required to climb poles ranging anywhere from 30 to 120 feet tall. Needless to say, if you have a fear of heights, this likely isn’t the career path for you.

Lineworkers must be committed to their career––because it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. The long hours and ever-present danger can truly take a toll. In fact, being a lineworker is listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S.

Lineworkers often work non-traditional hours, outdoors in difficult conditions. While the job does not require a 4-year college degree, it does require technical skills, years of training and hands-on learning. Becoming a journeyman lineworker can take more than 7,000 hours of training (or about four years). That’s because working with high-voltage equipment requires specialized skills, experience and an ongoing mental toughness. Shortcuts are not an option, and there is no room for error in this line of work.

Despite the many challenges, Trico’s lineworkers are committed to powering our local community. During severe weather events that bring major power outages, lineworkers are among the first ones called. They must be ready to leave the comfort of their home and families unexpectedly, and they don’t return until the job is done, often days later. That’s why the lineworker’s family is also dedicated to service. They understand the importance of the job to the community.

Nationwide, there are approximately 120,000 electric lineworkers. Trico has over 25 groundmen, apprentice and journeyman lineworkers who are responsible for keeping power flowing 24/7, 365 days a year. To do this, they maintain 3,961 miles of power lines across three counties and 2,346 square miles. In addition to the highly visible tasks lineworkers perform, their job today goes far beyond climbing utility poles to repair a wire. Today’s lineworkers are information experts who can pinpoint power outages from miles away. Line crews now use laptops, tablets and other technology to map outages, survey damage and troubleshoot problems.

Being a lineworker is essential to the life of our community. Without the exceptional dedication and commitment of these hardworking men and women, we simply would not have the reliable electricity that we need for everyday life.

So, the next time you see a lineworker, please thank them for the work they do to keep power flowing, regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. Afterall, lineworkers are the power behind your power. Please join us as we recognize them on April 11, and follow “#ThankALineworker” on social media to see how others are recognizing lineworkers.

Notice of hearing for Saguaro to Marana Transmission Line Project

A public hearing will be held before the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee (“Committee”) regarding the Application of Arizona Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. (“AEPCO”) for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to authorize construction of authorizing construction of a 115 kilovolt (“kV”) transmission line called the Saguaro to Marana 115/138 kV line (“Saguaro to Marana” or “the Project”).

The Project consists of two separate transmission line configurations. One portion of the Project is a double-circuit 115/138 kV transmission line to be jointly owned by AEPCO and Tucson Electric Power Company (“TEP”) (the 115 kV circuit will be owned and operated by AEPCO, and the 138 kV circuit will be owned and operated by TEP); the other portion of the Project is a single-circuit transmission line owned and operated by AEPCO alone. The transmission line originates at Trico Electric Cooperative’s planned Adonis Substation.

The hearing will be held at the Northwest Fire Department Training Facility, located at 5125 West Camino de Fuego, Tucson. Arizona 85743. The hearing will begin on Monday, June 6, 2022, at 1 :00 p.m., and will continue on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. and will continue as necessary on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, Thursday, June 9, 2022, and Friday, June 10, 2022, commencing at 9:00 a.m. on each day through the completion of the hearing. If any revisions to the hearing schedule are required, they will be noticed on the Project website at: www.azgtsaguaromarana.com , and on the Arizona Corporation Commission (“Commission”) website at: https://www.azcc.gov/arizona-power-plant/meeting-schedule.

Click here to read the full notice.

Construction begins on solar & battery project

Construction has started on a 10-megawatt photovoltaic solar generating facility and 15-megawatt battery storage system located on Edwin Road west of North Oracle Road, within Pinal County. The Chirreon Solar and Battery Storage Facility (Chirreon), which will serve Trico Members, is projected to be in service by summer 2022.

Chirreon will be located in the Trico service area on approximately 90 acres of land owned by the Arizona State Land Department. The solar panels have single-axis tracking devices that automatically track the sun throughout the day to maximize power generation. The battery storage will help Trico delay the cost of transmission and distribution upgrades and manage area load in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

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.

“As a non-profit cooperative, Trico is dedicated to providing its Members with energy solutions that are sustainable and cost‑effective. Building a community scale solar and battery project allows our membership to share in the benefits of an economical, renewable resource. The battery storage system at Chirreon will be one of the first for a cooperative in Arizona, and shows Trico’s commitment to serving its Members in innovative ways,” said Brian Heithoff, CEO and General Manager of Trico.

Trico, Torch Clean Energy, SOLV Energy, and CoBank have partnered on the facility. This is the second community solar project that Trico and Torch have partnered on. Through a long-standing partnership, CoBank provided the financing for this project.

“Torch is excited to again play a role in Trico’s leadership position in affordable carbon free energy. The start of construction for the Chirreon Solar and Storage project is a key milestone in their energy transition” said Jonathan Kilberg, President of Torch. “We are proud to be Trico’s partner for their first solar + storage project.”

On January 25, 2022, 12 battery packs – weighing 55,000 pounds each – were delivered to the Chirreon Solar and Battery Storage Facility in Pinal County. Chirreon is projected to be in service by summer 2022.

We are preparing for future growth by investing in our infrastructure

Trico is growing, along with many of the communities we serve. To keep up with that growth and maintain an excellent standard of reliability, we are investing in the facilities that deliver power to our Members’ homes and businesses.

I am happy to share with the membership that Trico will be investing almost $70,000,000 over the next four years to continue improving our electric infrastructure.

Our recently approved four-year construction work plan includes:

  1. Connecting 4,120 new homes and businesses.
  2. Increasing service capacity to many existing Members.
  3. Increasing the capacity of 49 miles of existing overhead and underground distribution lines.
  4. Constructing almost 34 miles of new lines between substations (this allows us to route power from different directions to reduce and limit outages).
  5. Replacing 440 older distribution poles.
  6. Replacing almost 15 miles of aging underground conductor.
  7. Installing one new substation delivery point (Adonis Substation, which will be north of Tangerine Road and east of I-10 in Marana) and rebuilding/upgrading two existing substations (Green Valley Substation and Marana Substation)
  8. Rebuilding 69 kV transmission lines.

Compared to the more than 900 electric cooperatives across the United States, we are proud that Trico is in the top 25% for offering strong reliable service. To maintain our high standard we make prudent, planned investments that benefit Members now and in the future.

To explain, in the electric distribution business, where many miles of poles, lines, and facilities are required, a cooperative like Trico must decide, do we pay now or do we pay later? It can be tempting to neglect or skimp on maintaining our lines and/or upgrading our system. That would save on short-term costs, but reliability would suffer. Members would have to hold their breath during bad weather or high winds, and costly repairs would be unplanned and likely more expensive when needed.

Don’t get me wrong, we know costs are important, and we work hard to keep down our costs and the amount of our monthly bills. The way to do that over the long run is with a steady and continuous preventative maintenance and investment approach where we annually address the needs of our system and prepare for projected growth.

Investing $70,000,000 over the next four years is an investment in our communities and a significant commitment to providing you the cost-effective energy you need, when you need it.

Making our community a better place

Trico employees have a lot of heart and over the holidays they showed it by collecting items for teens in need. Donations included backpacks, clothing, shoes, hygiene products, board games, Legos, sports equipment and puzzles. In addition to the gifts, employees raised more than $1,200 in cash and gift cards for Casa de los Niños.

“You made a big difference in the lives of kids and families who are in dire need,” said Kimberly Gutierrez, Development & Public Relations Coordinator. “Many children and their families face enormous struggles all year long but due to the COVID-19 pandemic these challenges have greatly intensified, and these families truly needed help now more than ever. Because of donors like you, children and families were able to celebrate the holidays with hope.”

We know our Members have big hearts too. More than 5,000 Members participate in Trico’s Operation Round Up program. Your contributions support the Trico Electric Charitable Trust, which awards grants to non-profit organizations providing critical services in southern Arizona.

Grants are awarded in May and December of each year. The proceeds are used to assist community organizations, schools, veteran’s groups, first responders, and food banks.

In 2021, Trico gave out $70,000 in POWER Grant funds, including $35,000 in grants to the organizations in the chart below in December.

Treasures 4 Teachers of Tucson received a $2,500 POWER Grant at the beginning of 2021, which was used to ensure that all teachers have the materials and the safety equipment they needed to get their schools back in session safely. Over 40 teachers from the Marana, Altar Valley, Vail and Sahuarita school districts received membership scholarships. Treasures 4 Teachers also used the grant to purchase fans in their warehouse and hire two part-time employees.

“It gets very hot in our warehouse in the summer as we only have a swamp cooler,” Director Adrienne Ledford said. “We purchased three more fans with the grant money. We are growing and because we have always been volunteer-run having someone reliable to help makes a big difference.”

Integrative Touch for Kids also received a $2,500 POWER Grant for its TeleFriend program, which provides Telehealth buddies for children with medical needs to have someone to spend time, play games and experience social interaction, during COVID-19.

“As a result of your contribution to our program, we were able to reach more kids in need and provide them with buddies to help break out of the isolation they live with at home or in the hospital,” said Tom Matteson, Philanthropy and Business Operations Manager. “Thank you so much, and we look forward to expanding these programs in 2022.”

How you can help

Trico’s POWER Grant Program is funded through Operation Round Up. For less than $1 per month, you can make a difference in your community. For example, let’s say your electric bill is $82.73. If you participate in Operation Round Up, your bill will be automatically rounded up to $83, with the extra 27 cents going to the Trico Electric Charitable Trust. The most you will donate is about $12 a year, and your donations are tax deductible.

Click here to sign up.

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