communities

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

Updated: March 2022

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.

At APS, it is important to us that we initiate and maintain relationships with stakeholders to understand their needs and identify opportunities to build healthy, sustainable communities.

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.

We use a variety of communications 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 affect their communities and APS, and identify opportunities for action.




Community Engagement

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 Arizona Corporation Commission has a process in place for our customers or stakeholders to raise concerns.

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In 2021, APS remained committed to providing community support to our nonprofit partners as they changed the way they delivered programs and services as a result of COVID-19. We partnered with nonprofits to expand heat relief during the summer months and we launched new programs to create inclusive opportunities for the community. Our community engagement highlights include:

  • Heat Relief. In partnership with The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and 211 (Arizona’s information and referral services program), APS helped to expand heat-relief programs assisting Arizonans with eviction prevention, emergency shelter, hydration and cooling stations and transportation to access those services. Resources were provided to support 11 Metro Phoenix Cooling Center locations and 8 additional locations, across nine Arizona counties. We began a program to provide free transportation to those needing to get to a cooling center or hydration station. We provided heat relief and shelter to more than 55,200 people and distributed more than 124,000 bottles of water on 100 of the hottest days of the year.

  • Healthy Homes Pilot Program. In partnership with the Foundation for Senior Living, APS helped launch this innovative program to address heat-related health hazards during the summer months for vulnerable, limited-income households by providing emergency HVAC repair/replacement at no cost. In the program’s first cycle, 30 households in APS’s service area received help from this program.

  • Food Security. APS partnered with Yuma Community Food Bank to fund two cold-storage units for La Paz and Yuma counties. These units will support the distribution of perishable and non-perishable food to the community for the first time in La Paz County.

  • Small Business Support. In partnership with Compass CBS Foundation, APS’s Going Green & Going Smart program helped small businesses accelerate adoption of sustainability practices and gain valuable energy insights and access to programs to help them grow. In 2021, more than 118 businesses enrolled in the program and more than 35,000 individuals were engaged through expert sessions and digital outreach.

  • Northern Arizona Kiva Hub. APS partnered with the Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest to launch the Northern Arizona Kiva Hub, which will provide no-interest loans to small businesses unable to access traditional capital in 2022. Kiva pioneered personal microlending for low-income entrepreneurs and underserved communities by using a blend of community partners, municipalities and individual funders to offer financing with no interest, no fees and technical assistance for small businesses. The Northern Arizona Kiva Hub will support entrepreneurs throughout Apache, Coconino, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai counties.

  • Lineworker Scholarship Program. In partnership with Friendly House, we awarded four deserving individuals with needs-based tuition assistance and wraparound support services to enhance their capabilities through electric utility lineworker training at Yavapai College. The purpose of this program is to promote equality of opportunity, as well as increase in awareness and participation of underrepresented groups in the lineworker workforce.

  • Supply My Class. To help ease the burden on Title I schoolteachers, support teacher retention, and to provide students with the tools they need, APS provided 500 teachers with $500 gift cards through the Supply My Class program. Since the program’s start, 3,000 Title I schoolteachers in the APS service territory have received help from this program.

  • STEM Teacher Grants Program. In partnership with the Phoenix Suns, APS helped teachers across the state by funding innovative science, technology, engineering and math projects that inspire students and their love of learning. The program awarded 29 schools with grants of up $2,500 for hands-on projects that introduce STEM concepts to the classroom.

  • Diverse Workforce Initiative.  APS helped establish the Diverse Workforce Initiative, led by the ASU Office of Educational Outreach and Support Services, with the shared goal of creating a stronger ecosystem of support for Black and underrepresented college students. The initiative aims to create a diverse workforce pipeline through intentional mentorship, internships, and by opening doors to career opportunities in high-wage sectors in Arizona. An APS Mentor Network helped to connect ASU students with APS employees who share their professional journey and insight on how to navigate internships and career opportunities in the energy sector.

  • Indigenous Leadership Academy (ILA). With seed funding from APS, the American Indian Policy Institute at ASU announced the creation of the ILA, the first of its kind in the country. The ILA supports emerging Indigenous leaders in expanding their knowledge, skills, and networks to address public-policy issues and engagement in the Tribal government, nonprofit and private sectors. The ILA will give program participants the opportunity to explore these issues and find ways to make a positive difference for Indigenous people in urban and reservation communities.

  • Supporting First Responders. We partnered with Firehouse Subs Foundation to provide $171,000 in grants to first responders in our service territory to buy lifesaving equipment. Ten fire stations and police departments in Arizona were able to access training, and buy medical bags, automated external defibrillators, two-way radios, self-contained breathing apparatuses and ballistic-safety gear through this program.

  • West Valley Grant Program.  APS partnered with Arizona Community Foundation to provide funding to 39 nonprofits that support growth and community needs in the West Valley through a competitive grant process.

  • APS Garfield Station. The Garfield Substation boasts a beautiful, one-of-a-kind mural created by local artists. It features the downtown Phoenix skyline and late Phoenix City Councilman and educator Calvin Goode, who was dedicated to improving impoverished areas of the city, supporting disadvantaged youth and fighting discrimination.

    APS Government Affairs Manager Kendra Lee says murals and similar artistic elements will be an important component of future downtown substation projects.

    “Instead of building substations with 10-foot block walls that blend in with the surrounding architecture, these new projects create a vibrancy that showcases neighborhood character, while still providing safe, reliable electricity," Lee said. "It’s a win-win for APS, the community and our customers." 

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’ve worked 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

APS continues to participate in a generic docket at the ACC to continue the coal communities transition discussion.

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 department works with state, regional and community partners to attract, expand and develop business and industry in Arizona. Our recruitment efforts target base industries such as manufacturing, semiconductor, 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.

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Our CEO had a conversation with City of Phoenix, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and CDP to discuss how our state is balancing its booming population growth with climate change impacts. Learn more about this discussion, in this Case study from CDP: In Arizona, Sustainability is Bringing in Big Business.

In 2021, we partnered with the Arizona Commerce Authority, the GPEC and other metropolitan and rural economic development organizations to attract 25 new and expanding companies to our service territory, creating an estimated 5,000 new jobs and driving more than $1.4 billion in capital investment. Some of these companies include KORE Power, Kohler, Whitehall Industries, Meyer Burger and Sunlit Chemical. Collectively, these projects will add a significant number 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 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.

Learn more about our economic development.

Philanthropy and 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.

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Philanthropy. As Arizona stewards, we do what is right for the people and prosperity of our state. The Phoenix Business Journal ranked us as the largest corporate philanthropist and the second largest corporate volunteer program in the Phoenix area. In addition, we donated more than $12.9 million to charitable causes through our corporate giving program, which funds 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 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 2021, the APS Foundation provided grants focusing on STEM education totaling over $2 million.

Volunteerism. Giving back to our communities is an integral part of our culture, and our employees donate their time and talents to a wide range of charitable organizations and civic initiatives. In 2021, our employees volunteered an estimated 91,000 hours of time, both in-person and virtually, to causes important to them. Those efforts result in a value of $2.6 million contributed to the community.

Other various volunteer activities in 2021 include:

  • Nearly 300 APS volunteers supported the Dignity Health COVID-19 vaccine point of distribution (POD) in February 2021. Throughout the spring and summer employees supported several other vaccine POD sites across the valley.
  • Other volunteer opportunities included: Broke ground on our 2021 Habitat House for Humanity in the central city south neighborhood, cooked and served meals at Ronald McDonald House, cleaned campsites on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, hosted virtual career days for Junior Achievement, and 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 400 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 community involvement.

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 around our facilities.

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Through instructor-led education programs, outreach to the 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 2021, our electrical safety presentations and electrical safety trailer delivered safety messaging that reached 2,600 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 2021.

Other accomplishments for 2021 included:

  • Performed 170 public safety field investigations.
  • Participated in many industry safety committee meetings with our community partners.
  • Reviewed and inspected 33 right of way/easement encroachment issues.

Learn more about our public safety.

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