The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) recently provided grant funds to the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) that allowed the City of Douglas, Arizona, to complete critical energy efficiency upgrades to a city-owned building. This project enabled Advanced Call Center Technologies (ACT), one of the city's largest employers, to maintain continuous operations and ensure stability for 350 good-paying jobs.
Administered to ADOA through EERE's State Energy Program (SEP), the funds supported repairs to the building's uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which serves as a crucial source of short-term backup power stored on batteries. Several critical electrical components in the UPS had failed, likely due to a heavy thunderstorm during the monsoon season, and the system's batteries were close to the end of their useful life. Without a functioning UPS, the call center experienced power interruption at least once and did not have backup power to continue operations.
This project both increased the energy efficiency of the UPS and allowed for continued operation of the ACT call center, which provides critical customer service to various telecommunications companies. After requesting SEP funds in September 2019, the city completed the project in January 2020.
Luis Pedroza, management services director and city treasurer, underscored the significance of EERE's funding to the City of Douglas:
The ACT call center is a top-10 employer in the city and has been in operation since 2008. ACT employs 350 people with stable wages and benefits. When the uninterruptible power supply unexpectedly went down late [in the summer of 2019], the city could not afford the extraordinary costs for emergency repairs to the system. Without the [uninterruptible power supply] in place, ACT does not have a backup power supply needed for their daily operations. Any power interruption to ACT can jeopardize their customer service contracts and cost ACT thousands of dollars per day.
The emergency repairs cost a total of nearly $60,000—a significant and unexpected expense that the city would have struggled to afford with its limited call center budget. ACT and the City of Douglas expressed gratitude for the emergency assistance and funding. The partnership between ADOA and EERE allowed for a timely intervention that delivered energy efficiency benefits and helped stave off the closure of one of the city's largest employers.
DOE's State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste. The State Energy Program emphasizes the state's role as the decision maker and administrator for program activities within the state that are tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.