For the Love of Tucson: Sign the Community Letter to the President of TEP

Looking ahead to a bright future for Tucson

“We are looking ahead, as is one of the first mandates given us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make relate to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come.” – Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons

Climate change is real and it’s progressing faster than scientists first predicted. We aren’t talking about some distant dilemma. The devastating impacts are already being felt around the world. In Tucson, we are experiencing record temperatures – every year hotter than the last. There is no more time to waste. We need to get carbon dioxide below 350 ppm immediately.

Sustainable Tucson is greatly concerned about TEP’s unambitious goal of transitioning to 30% clean energy by 2030. TEP is proposing modernizing the Sundt Generating Station by replacing two 1950’s era steam units with ten natural gas-fired combustion engines. These RICE units would create significant greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, the project expects to cause an increase in emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter (fine particles PM2.5 and coarse particles PM10) and volatile organic compounds.

Renewable energy, supplemented by energy storage systems, is a better option for many reasons. But TEP has refused to consider it – even though the Arizona Corporation Commission strongly urged TEP to turn in this direction.

Our advocacy team and other community members have been actively fighting the permit process for installation of the RICE units. Duane Ediger took a week off of work to study the TEP’s permit to see if it met the Pima County code. With the help of the Sierra Club, Duane uncovered some inconsistencies that he shared with the community so we could submit relevant comments to the Pima Department of Environmental Quality.

While awaiting a response, Duane worked with Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, Sustainable Tucson, and Arizona Interfaith Power and Light to draft a public letter to David G. Hutchens, President of Tucson Electric Power Company.

The letter explains that:

We need electricity generation that will leave a legacy of environmental recovery and take us off the path of harm. We implore you, together with all utility managers, to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel-burning plants from your energy mix as quickly as possible. We call on you to use the best and most recent data as you reconsider your current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and its reliance on natural gas. Your next IRP should focus on clean renewable energy and energy efficiency rather than fossil fuels in order to ensure that the next seven generations of Pima County residents and the surrounding communities have a chance to enjoy, treasure, and protect the beauty of our Sonoran Desert free of the pollution that fossil fuels cause to our water and air. We urge you to start immediately in the heart of Tucson by installing solar plus storage at and near the IGS.

Please join Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, Sustainable Tucson, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light and many individuals and organizations in calling on TEP to act for the well-being of present and future generations.

Please consider sharing this with people and communities who might also like to sign.

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Jana Segal
While tending my desert garden, I became a sort of citizen scientist observing the impact of rising temperatures and declining rainfall in Tucson. I’m convinced we need to do everything we can to lessen the impact of climate change now. I share my journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle on my blog Sustainable Living Tucson. That includes blogging about what I have learned about sustainable practices like water-harvesting and clean energy. I am currently writing a play about Tucson feeling the impact of climate change. As a member of Sustainable Tucson’s core team, I help to organize programs on sustainable practices and environmental issues. I was invited to attend the Pima Department of Environmental Quality's Green Infrastructure planning meetings as a citizen advocate – after speaking up at City Council and Board of Supervisors meetings. Sustainable Tucson’s advocacy team recently fought the installation of 10 natural gas generators at the Irvington plant. I also rally my friends on social media to become active too by posting Calls to Action from my blog Desktop Activist Tucson.