communities

Community Engagement | Collaboration & Our Clean Energy Commitment | Coal Communities Transition | APS Strategic Fiber Program | Economic Development | Philanthropy & Volunteerism | Public Safety

Updated: March 2021

Our multifaceted approach to community engagement is grounded in our commitment to community development. We invest in the communities in which we do business and focus on building meaningful relationships, which helps us manage our social, economic, and environmental impact.

Community Engagement

At Arizona Public Service (APS), we initiate and maintain relationships with stakeholders to understand needs and identify opportunities to build healthy, sustainable communities. Our community engagement teams collaborate with representatives from a wide range of entities – including state, county, municipal and tribal governments; military bases; school districts; nonprofits; business organizations; and public interest groups. The relationships are an important tool we use to collect and record complaints so that we work together to address concerns. In addition, the Arizona Corporation Commission has a grievance process in place for our customers.

We use a variety of communications channels to develop dialogue in our communities, such as open houses, business forums and other special events. These enable us to gather feedback from participants, inform them about issues that affect their communities and APS, and identify opportunities for action. We also develop strategic partnerships in areas such as diversity, inclusion, and workforce development to advance social and economic goals.

Our Code of Ethics and Business Practices guides ethical decision-making and helps us live and work by our company values of safety, integrity & trust, respect & inclusion and accountability. This includes how we work with communities and operate as a good corporate citizen.

COVID-19 has caused much uncertainty among many nonprofits across Arizona. Non-profit work is being hampered by this unprecedented pandemic, which is why we are working with our community partners to ensure emergency funds are available to help provide for the urgent needs of Arizonans during these times. Among our community engagement highlights in 2020:

Community Assistance. APS has teamed with numerous Arizona businesses and individuals to support the funds that can provide immediate assistance and respond quickly to emerging community needs including: The Arizona Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund and The Arizona Together Fund, launched by Governor Doug Ducey. Learn more about our community involvement at aps.com.

Business Retention. APS also implemented two business retention strategies to support local small businesses that were disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. We provided emergency grants to community-based organizations that led proactive business retention efforts aimed at Arizona small business. In addition, APS provided funding to develop technical assistance to small businesses to raise awareness about existing SBA programs. Between small business emergency grants and technical assistance to facilitate access to capital, APS invested $250,000 to empower approximately 1,100 small businesses in Arizona.

Community Scholarship Program. APS continues to collaborate with community partners to promote career opportunities in the energy industry for non-traditional candidates who can bring unique perspectives to the Company’s workforce. This commitment is demonstrated through the APS Line worker Scholarship Program, designed to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion of underrepresented groups in the line worker workforce. The scholarship program covers tuition, fees, and support services to complete the Electric Utility Technology program at Chandler-Gilbert Community College as well as course fees to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, increasing the scholarship recipient’s capabilities for successful transition into the workplace. In its third year, the program has introduced more than 200 diverse individuals to careers in energy and through an open and competitive selection process, it has empowered nine Arizona students to complete electric utility training at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Collaboration & Our Clean Energy Commitment

APS and Arizona’s cities are aligned in commitment to make our communities livable, attractive spaces for residents and businesses. The counties, cities, and towns we serve have a stake in the reliability and affordability of the products and services we provide. As governmental bodies, they also have their own carbon and sustainability goals for their operations. Our commitment to clean energy provides opportunities for collaboration and can accelerate the ability of municipalities to attain their renewable energy goals and increase their capacity to focus on other areas, such as energy efficiency and overall sustainability. For example, the City of Flagstaff has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with APS that establishes a direct partnership and promotes synergy. It enables us to use each other’s skill sets to achieve common energy and carbon-based goals. The cities of Tempe and Phoenix also have formal working groups in which we participate and collaborate on achieving our shared Clean Energy Commitment goals.

With coal plant closures, we will work closely with impacted employees and local communities to ease the transition and support long–term economic planning for a future beyond coal.

Learn more about our Clean Energy Commitment.

Coal Communities Transition

The transition away from coal-fired power plants toward a clean energy future will pose unique economic challenges for the communities around these plants. We’ve worked collaboratively with stakeholders and leaders of the Navajo Nation to consider the impacts of ceasing operation of APS coal-fired power plants on the communities surrounding those facilities to propose a comprehensive coal communities transition plan. The proposed framework provides for substantial financial and economic development support to build economic opportunities and addresses a transition strategy for plant employees. We are committed to continuing our established partnership with the Navajo Nation by addressing other areas as well, including expanding electrification and developing tribal renewable projects. Our proposed plan supports the Navajo Nation, where the Four Corners Power Plant is located, and the communities surrounding the Cholla Power Plant and the Hopi Tribe, which is impacted by closure of the Navajo Generating Station. Our coal communities transition plan is pending Arizona Corporation Commission approval.


APS Strategic Fiber Program

Robust and reliable internet access does not exist in much of our state, which is why APS designed its Strategic Fiber Program to meet the company’s needs and to support rural broadband expansion in northern Arizona. The project will enhance the APS communications system that is used to operate the electric grid by installing high speed fiber optic lines along our transmission corridors. It supports rural communities by providing surplus capacity on the fiber optic lines that local telecommunications carriers can lease to deliver this vital service to homes and businesses across the region. In the next few years, this program will complete a loop that travels from Phoenix through Payson, Joseph City, Winslow, Flagstaff, Prescott and back to Phoenix. We believe our investment in delivering a more resilient and high-speed network to our communities will support education and economic development and close the digital divide between rural and metro areas. The revenue from leasing this surplus fiber capacity to carriers in rural communities will be returned to APS customers.


Economic Development

Our Economic Development department works with state, regional and community partners to attract, expand and develop business and industry in Arizona. These recruitment efforts target base industries such as manufacturing, corporate headquarters, healthcare, data centers and other companies that offer competitive wages and benefits. Attracting companies in these sectors boosts the Arizona economy through job creation and capital investment expenditures while assisting electrical load growth for the company.

In 2020, we worked with partners such as the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council  and other metropolitan and rural economic development organizations to attract 22 new and expanding companies to our service territory, creating an estimated 7,618 new jobs and driving more than $13 billion in capital investment. Some of these companies include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Stack Data Center, White Claw, Five Below, and the expansions of Ball Corporation, Red Bull and Amazon. Collectively, these projects will add hundreds of new megawatts of power to the APS system as they establish operations.

The department also focused on supporting various Arizona communities with economic development strategic planning efforts, assisting in enhancing broadband deployment in rural areas, and furthering support of the state’s entrepreneurial community creating an even stronger foundation for businesses to invest and expand in Arizona. This is illustrated through our launching of SizeUpArizona.com, a statewide business intelligence tool that provides data support to small/medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs allowing them to establish and grow their business within the state.

Learn more about our economic development efforts at aps.com.

Philanthropy & Volunteerism

We are involved in the communities we serve. We partner with nonprofit organizations and community groups across the state to build a stronger, healthier Arizona. Our efforts include financial support, board service and volunteer assistance. In 2020, the Phoenix Business Journal ranked us the Phoenix area’s largest corporate philanthropist.

We donated more than $11.1 million to charitable causes in 2020. This includes our corporate giving program, which funds organizations that contribute to the vitality of Arizona, with an emphasis on arts & culture, civic & economic development, education & employment, and human services.

Like everywhere else, COVID-19 had a severe impact on the communities served by APS. Of the $11.1 million provided to the community, more than $2.2 million went to support such COVID-19 relief as homeless prevention, food security, emergency shelter services, testing and vaccination, and small business assistance. 

Employees and retirees contributed to the effort by pledging more than $44,000 to the Arizona Food Bank Network to help provide food to families around Arizona. This amount is being matched by the company on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Contributions from the match and additional APS funding in 2020 resulted in the equivalent of 3.6 million meals being provided to our neighbors. 

Giving back to our communities is an integral part of the APS culture, and our employees donate their time and talents to a wide range of charitable organizations and civic initiatives. We ranked fourth on the Phoenix Business Journal’s 2020 list of Arizona’s top corporate volunteer programs. Our employees volunteered an estimated 82,000 hours of time, a value of about $2.2 million, to causes important to them in 2020. To ensure the health and safety of our employees and the public, much of our volunteerism program was conducted virtually because of COVID-19 concerns. From writing affirmation cards for children entering foster care through Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, to online shopping to donate pajamas to kids through Arizona Helping Hands, to participating in various virtual fundraising walks, APS employees were more creative than ever in finding ways to give back.
 
Our employees sit on the boards of more than 300 Arizona community organizations, nonprofit organizations, and industry groups. Employee engagement of this kind not only assists those nonprofits but also produces valuable human-capital development, as volunteerism increases loyalty, performance and job satisfaction while providing employees with professional development opportunities.

Other accomplishments for 2020 include:

  • As a direct result of APS’s support, The Salvation Army provided approximately 340 at-risk individuals in 113 households with assistance to maintain their permanent housing. Through direct rental and utility assistance made possible by APS, these households avoided falling into the homeless system.
  • For the 15th consecutive year, APS and the Phoenix Suns partnered to promote STEM education in Arizona schools by awarding 26 Arizona teachers with grants up to $2,500 to help them implement a wide range of STEM-related projects, including robotics, gardening, sustainable art and computer coding.
  • For the third consecutive year, we supported Arizona teachers through our Supply My Class awards program in which 500 Arizona Title 1 public school K-12 teachers received $500 each to purchase much-needed classroom supplies.
  • Through a new endeavor called Supply My School, the APS Foundation provided $5,000 awards to 45 Title 1 public schools in Arizona. The awards were given on an unrestricted basis, allowing the schools to apply the funds to their most pressing needs.
  • Employees pledged more than $2.2 million to our 2020 Community Services Fund, which benefits local nonprofit agencies. The company matched that pledge with an additional $1.1 million.

Learn more about our community involvement at aps.com.

Public Safety

We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of the public. The cornerstone of this commitment is maintaining our assets in a safe condition. In addition, we have multiple programs that educate our customers, first responders and the general public about electrical safety and ensure the safety of contractors working on and around our facilities.

Through instructor-led education programs, outreach to the news media and the use of social media, we raise awareness on topics such as safety around downed electrical wires, maintaining safe working distances around overhead lines, and responding appropriately if unsafe electrical equipment conditions are found. We also provide safety education programs to increase public awareness about electricity and electrical equipment. We reach thousands of Arizonans each year with our electrical safety trailer presentations, which provide live demonstrations of the dangers of electricity by showing controlled arc and fault currents flashes to attendees. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, our electrical safety presentations and electrical safety trailer delivered safety messaging that reached more than 3,000 first responders, contractors, members of the public and municipal, state and county workers.

We continue to partner with Arizona 811 (a state regulatory-driven excavation staking service) and amid the pandemic participated in virtual damage-prevention seminars throughout the state in 2020.

Other accomplishments for 2020 include:

  • Performed more than 190 public safety field investigations.
  • Participated in many industry safety committee meetings with our community partners.
  • Reviewed and inspected more than 80 right of way/easement encroachment issues.

Learn more about our public safety efforts at aps.com.

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