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Investing in continued reliability for Arizona

Nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses rely on us for safe, reliable power. And we deliver – ranking within the top 25% of electric utilities across the nation for frequency of outages in 11 of the past 12 years and within the top 25% for duration of outages in nine of the past 12 years. In other words, outages are few and far between, and we get power on quickly for customers.

To keep our service reliability strong as our state grows, we deploy programs to monitor the health of our system and prioritize investments on behalf of customers. We invest more than $1 billion each year to upgrade and expand the infrastructure of the energy grid covering our vast service territory, which spans 34,646 square miles through 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties. That is part of how we are partners in Arizona’s prosperity – forecasting and meeting the state’s energy needs as it grows and brings new developments of all kinds.

Our investments in infrastructure for 2021 are projected to be $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 2020. Of that, $645 million have been budgeted for 2021 projects related to transmission and distribution (T&D), the avenues by which we deliver our power into the communities and neighborhoods we serve.

"We have quite a network of infrastructure across the state to deliver power when Arizonans need it most,” said Adolfo Maldonado, T&D System Health Engineering Supervisor for APS. “In order to maintain the reliability our customers deserve, we have to invest, and we absolutely do that.”

Our transmission and distribution expenditures can be categorized into three groups:

  • System Maintenance: Monitoring the health of our system for indications of failure, proactively replacing equipment that has potential for failure and replacing equipment that has become aged-out, faulty or damaged.

  • System Improvements: Adding new technology/equipment to make our grid more resilient and flexible, including projects adding capacity to accommodate areas of high distributed energy resources, and integrating technology that allows us to remotely and more quickly detect and restore outages.

  • System Growth: Building new facilities to serve new customers. This can be additional customers within an already developed area or new customers where there was no previous infrastructure.

 mid-town substation building
In addition to our focus on reliability, we partner with our communities to integrate system improvements as seamlessly as possible. Consider the maintenance, improvements and growth we’re bringing to substations in downtown Phoenix. To meet the energy needs of our current customers and the ongoing development bringing more customers, we are working on seven substation projects in the area. Among them is the Midtown Substation, which features innovative new designs and newer compact technology known as Gas Insulated Substation (GIS) to fit an entire substation into a small footprint. Construction, which began in June 2018, is expected to be completed by March 2021.

Designed to fit within the motif of the neighborhood, the revamped Midtown Substation will feature 16-foot surrounding walls that will veil most of the equipment. And that’s not all. Engaging the community in the project, we’ve asked students from the nearby BASIS Phoenix Charter School to help beautify parts of the external-facing walls to help capture the community’s vibrant art culture.

Sidewalks, lighting and landscaping will add to the substation’s curb appeal. It’s likely passersby won’t realize it’s a substation at all based on its appearance.

And, coming soon nearby, look for dramatic expansion at the Evans Churchill North Substation, which will incorporate community and artistic space into its state-of-the-art design.

The expansion plans include a welcome plaza, a performance plaza, benches, colored concrete sidewalks, murals and local art display cases.

While a lot of maintenance work takes place on overhead lines and above-ground equipment like these substations, more than $27 million annually is spent on replacing and maintaining underground infrastructure, which helps enhance reliability and the customer experience.

Since 1988, APS has installed approximately 2,700 trench miles of distribution cable at a cost of $520 million. But the work is far from done as we are committed to replacing another 1,000 trench miles of cable to better serve our customers.

These are just a few examples of the projects we’ve committed to completing as we upgrade and expand the infrastructure of our energy grid across Arizona.

 

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