Tucson residents rejected Proposition 412 in a special election Tuesday, May 16, which would have renewed the city’s agreement with Tucson Electric Power and added an additional fee for customers.

Initial results point to a clear no vote for the proposition, with 55% voting no and 44% voting in favor. In total, there were approximately 63,000 ballots cast from about 290,000 registered voters, for a voter turnout of less than 22% in the all-mail election.

Final results are expected by Monday.

In addition to renewing the agreement between the city of Tucson and TEP for 25 years, the proposition voters rejected would have kept a 2.25% fee and added a new 0.75% fee to put some controversial midtown power lines underground and help pay for some climate-related projects.

The previous agreement between the city and TEP, approved by voters in 2000, will expire in 2026. 

Joe Barrios, TEP’s supervisor of media relations, previously told Arizona Luminaria, that if 412 didn’t pass “customers shouldn’t panic.” Indeed, as of May 17, electricity is still flowing through Tucson, and the lights are on.

“But for us, it is a concern,” Barrios said. “It’s maintenance that needs to be addressed.”

By city and state laws, a voter-approved franchise agreement has to be in place for an electric utility to use public rights of way. If TEP wants to continue to supply power, and use Tucson’s city infrastructure to do so, they have until 2026 to establish a new agreement.

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John Washington is an investigative journalist based in Tucson with a focus on immigration and borders, as well as criminal justice and literature. His first book, "The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum...