communities

Community Engagement and Philanthropy | Coal Communities Transition | APS Strategic Fiber Program | Economic Development

Updated: April 2024

 

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

APS is involved in industry efforts, through the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Edison Electric Institute, to develop resources and tools to comply with the environmental justice considerations of this administration. APS seeks to ensure the respectful treatment and meaningful engagement of those people who may be impacted by our operational decisions. We believe meaningful stakeholder engagement is an important lever for value creation in the communities we serve, because it allows us to better understand the community’s unique needs and desires. Stakeholder engagement in our siting process and resource planning work isn’t new to APS. We’ve long prioritized understanding and supporting the communities we serve, but we now have additional tools with which to consider our community impacts.  

We have evolved our philanthropic giving to drive greater impact through strategic programs, partnerships and grants that align with our APS Promise. Our community impact strategy is focused on two main pillars: Arizona’s Growth and Prosperity to support a strong and growing economy through creating a thriving and prosperous Arizona, and Human and Environmental Success as we care about people and our environment by supporting partners who deliver services for basic human needs and environmental sustainability.

Learn more about our performance and results in our Community Impact Report.

Community Engagement and Philanthropy

We are involved in the communities we serve and partner with nonprofit organizations and civic groups across the state to build a stronger, healthier Arizona. Our efforts include financial support, board service and volunteer assistance.

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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.

We use a variety of communication channels to develop dialogue in our communities, such as open houses, business and nonprofit forums and other special events. These enable us to gather feedback from participants, inform them about issues that may affect their communities and APS, and identify opportunities for action. The Arizona Corporation Commission has a process in place for our customers and stakeholders to raise concerns.

In 2023, APS remained committed to providing support to our nonprofit partners expanding services for housing and food security and invested in our teachers and students continuing our steadfast commitment to education. Community engagement highlights include:

  • Supply My Class. To help ease the burden on teachers and provide students with classroom resources, APS granted $500 gift cards to 500 randomly selected teachers at Title I schools in APS service territory to purchase classroom supplies, totaling $250,000. The first 185 awards were dedicated to new teachers just getting started in their careers to support establishing their classrooms . Of the eligible schools, 52% of teachers awarded were from rural communities.

  • Supply My Food Bank. Recognizing the growing food security crisis in our community, we responded with Supply My Food Bank, where 263 APS employees, friends and family members participated in multiple volunteer events at local food banks during their busiest times of year and collected more than 2,110 pounds of food.

  • Housing Support. In partnership with Arizona Community Foundation and JP Morgan Chase, APS supported the Affordable Housing Fund. Grants enabled nine nonprofits to develop projects with innovative solutions for affordable housing. We also invested in the Technical Assistance Partnership’s Mobile Home Park Emergency Relief Fund to assist 393 community members across the Valley who faced immediate eviction due to the sale and reuse of mobile home parks. Collaboration with the Phoenix IDA provided funding to help ensure individuals and families were able to safely and quickly transition into affordable housing.

Philanthropy. As Arizona stewards, we do what is right for the people and prosperity of our state. The Phoenix Business Journal ranked APS as the largest corporate philanthropist and the second largest corporate volunteer program in the Phoenix area. In addition, we donated more than $10.2 million to charitable organizations that contribute to the vitality of Arizona, with an emphasis on arts and culture, civic and economic development, education and employment, and human services.

As part of the corporate giving program, the APS Foundation supports programs that enhance academic achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A workforce proficient in STEM skills is critical to attracting and retaining high-quality businesses and industries to the state. The APS Foundation targets projects that help educators increase content knowledge in STEM subjects as well as the ability to transfer this knowledge effectively to students. In 2023, the APS Foundation funded 29 STEM programs and projects that directly impacted over 2,800 teachers and 345,000 students across Arizona, from Metro Phoenix to surrounding rural communities.

Volunteerism. Through the APS Community Connectors volunteer program, employees invest their time to improve lives across the state of Arizona. Working hand-in-hand with our nonprofit partners, caring for those who need it the most is embedded in APS’ culture. President Ted Geisler attributes the team at APS as being its secret sauce. “When it comes to providing the level of dedication, passion, hard work, tenacity and caring concern for their communities, we are unique.” Our employees stepped up to volunteer at 311 events, contributing a total of 79,286 hours of support. Those efforts resulted in a value of $2.4 million donated to the community.

Other various volunteer activities in 2023 include:

  • Tree planting events at schools, parks, and nonprofit organizations in communities with tree equity scores

  • Hand delivered surprises to all Supply My Class awardees

  • Cooked and served meals at Ronald McDonald House

  • Served as mentors and on career panels for Jobs for Arizona Graduates, Aguila Youth Leadership Institute, University of Arizona and Arizona State University

  • Assisted in building homes with Habitat for Humanity

  • Early morning shifts with the City of Phoenix passing out heat relief supplies and water

  • Stuffed heat-relief support bags for The Salvation Army

In addition to hands-on volunteer activities, our employees sit on the boards of more than 150 Arizona community organizations, nonprofit organizations, civic 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.

Learn more about our performance and results in our Community Impact Report.

Coal Communities Transition

The transition away from coal-fired power plants and toward a clean energy future will pose unique economic challenges for the communities around these plants.

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We understand that the transition away from coal-fired power plants toward a clean energy future will pose unique economic challenges for the communities around the 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. On November 2, 2021, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approved a modified plan that will provide:

  • Navajo Nation - $10 million and up to $1.25 million for the electrification of homes and businesses

  • Navajo County Communities - $500,000

  • Hopi Tribe - $1 million and up to$1.25 million for electrification of homes and businesses

In 2023, in support of energy and economic development within the Navajo Nation, APS included a request in its All-source Request for Proposal for 250 MW of renewable generation to be located within the geographic boundaries of the Navajo Nation. APS plans to seek an additional 350 MW of renewable generation within or near the Navajo Nation within one year of exiting the Four Corners Power Plant.

In 2023, APS collaborated with Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power to provide support to communities impacted by planned exits from coal-fired generation. Nine organizations serving Arizona communities were selected to receive economic development grants from the Joint Utilities Grant Funding Program.

Learn more about the Program.

APS Strategic Fiber Program

Robust and reliable internet access does not exist in much of our state, which is why APS designed our Strategic Fiber Program to meet the company’s needs and to support rural broadband expansion in northern Arizona.

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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 service providers 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 team works with state, regional, county and community partners to attract, expand and grow business and industry in Arizona. Our recruitment efforts target base industries such as manufacturing, semiconductor, corporate headquarters, healthcare, 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.

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In 2023, we partnered with 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 APS service territory, creating an estimated 2.9k new jobs and driving more than $13.2 billion in capital investment. Some of these companies include Amkor, Steel Dynamics, Jacuzzi Group and expansions by Sub-Zero and Rose Acre Farms. Collectively, these projects will add a significant number of new megawatts of power to the APS system as they establish operations.

We also focused on supporting various Arizona communities with economic development strategic planning efforts 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 in our continued investment in statewide business intelligence tools such as SizeUpArizona.com and ArizonaProspector.com, which provide data support to small- and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as community and county economic development organizations, allowing them to establish, grow and identify their competitive position within the state. This year The Next Move Group was added to the portfolio of resources allowing access to tools addressing multifaceted economic development needs such as prospecting, talent attraction, building and site development, and board training.

Learn more about our economic development.

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