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Tucson Voters Reject Prop 412, Franchise To TEP

May 19, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Tucson voters delivered a resounding defeat to Mayor Regina Romero and her support of Proposition 412.

On Tuesday, results were released for the special election, showing Prop 412 receiving 28,084 (44.7%) votes in favor versus 34,712 (55.3%) votes in opposition. Voter turnout for the City of Tucson’s contest hovered around 21.69%.

Prop 412 would have granted “a franchise to Tucson Electric Power (TEP) Company for the purpose of providing electric transmission and distribution services within the City of Tucson for which the City of Tucson will receive a franchise fee and other consideration.” The “other consideration” would have come, in part, in the form of a “Community Resilience Fee” to fund Tucson’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which was an effort to achieve “carbon neutrality for City operations by 2030.”

Mayor Romero, who had been one of the strongest proponents of Prop 412, released a statement after the results confirmed the worst: “TEP and the City put together a franchise agreement that tried to be responsive to the different needs our community was asking for, like undergrounding, investing in climate resiliency and creating EV infrastructure in public rights of way. I respect the voters’ decision not to approve.”

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kevin Thompson, one of Arizona’s few Republican statewide officeholders at the moment, reacted to the news from southern Arizona, telling AZ Free News, “Tucson voters rightfully demonstrated they understood the ramifications of mixing political pet projects under the guise of essential utility contract service requirements. This is a good outcome for ratepayers and a step towards returning these important decisions to the Corporation Commission where they belong.”

Merissa Hamilton, a grassroots leader in Arizona, tweeted her analysis of the Tucson election result, writing, “This vote is significant because it was the Public’s chance to make their voice heard on Romero’s tyrannical climate action agenda.”

One of the main issues that caused contention over this proposal was the insertion of the community resilience fee of 0.75% of all applicable revenues of TEP – in addition to the 2.25% Franchise Fee. This new fee would have been collected and disbursed for “funding costs associated with the underground installation of new TEP Facilities or conversion to underground of existing TEP facilities currently installed overhead; and projects that support the City’s implementation of the City’s approved Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.” This fee picked up opposition from both sides of the political aisle.

The Pima County Republican Party had fiercely lobbied against Prop 412 and cheered on its defeat. In a Facebook post, the Party stated, “WE DID IT!! Thank you to our LD’s and our incredible volunteers. CONGRATULATIONS to every volunteer and every candidate who helped us fight this Marxist proposal.”

The community resilience charge hasn’t been the only fee that TEP is attempting to pass along to its Southern Arizona consumers. Earlier last year, TEP submitted an application to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), proposing a rate increase of 11.8% to take effect no later than September 1, 2023. TEP informed the Commission that “the new rates are intended to result in an increase in retail revenues of approximately $136 million.” According to reports, TEP customers’ bills would increase more than $14 each month should the ACC sign off on the request.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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