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august 23, 2016
aps's work to harden the grid keeps the lights on
 
PHOENIX – Arizona is more than halfway through monsoon season 2016, and the work APS performed in the offseason to harden its power grid has helped to keep the lights on for customers across the state.
 
APS manages 35,000 square miles – the sixth-largest service territory in the country. With more than half a million power poles, 6,500 miles of transmission power lines, and more than 28,000 miles of distribution lines to serve customers, APS looks for ways to safeguard its equipment to continue providing reliable electric service – no matter what Mother Nature sends our way.
 
“Last year, parts of Arizona were hit with hurricane-strength winds and heavy rain,” said Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Operations. “We spent the offseason evaluating potential vulnerable areas of our grid and proactively replaced and upgraded equipment. We know our customers depend on us to provide reliable service to their homes and businesses. The work we did has made a difference this summer, and we continue to look for ways to improve.”
 
No matter how the company prepares, outages do happen. Some of the common causes of outages include storms (specifically wind and lightning), foreign interference in equipment (such as mylar balloon, cars hitting poles or animals getting into equipment), and equipment failure. Regular maintenance and upgrades to the system help prevent outages, but there are other actions the company has performed to ensure a smooth summer 2016:
 
  • APS inspects its system every year to check for deterioration and to predict potential failure. The company has proactively replaced more than 1,200 power poles since last summer.
  • Through its Wildlife Protection Program, APS equipped more than 1,000 power poles:
    • installing customized perches to accommodate Harris’s Hawks, which perch and hunt in groups;
    • installing “bird guard” covers on electrical equipment located on poles in high raptor-use areas;
    • using covered wire on new pole-mounted electrical equipment; and
    • using avian-safe techniques to modify existing structures and construct new facilities when needed.
  • Transmission lines are designed to bring large amounts of electricity into a city or town. For the Metro Phoenix area, APS is in the final stages of completing a high-voltage transmission line that loops around the valley – ensuring redundancy and adding to the company’s ability to reliably serve our growing metropolitan area. In the spring, the company completed 70 miles of this loop in the west valley.
  • Distribution lines take the power provided by transmission lines and bring the energy into neighborhoods across the state. Hardening the distribution system – by replacing equipment or adding hardened-steel poles that strengthen the power line – is priority work in the offseason. One example of this work can be seen near Chaparral and Scottsdale Roads in Phoenix, where the company installed a steel pole near a canal. The project took a heavy-duty crane to lift the nearly 14,000 pounds of steel, and the impact is increased redundancy and reliability.
  • As the metro area continues to grow, APS evaluates the amount of power flowing on power lines and into substations to ensure the equipment can continue to handle the amount of power our customers require 24/7. One project that showcases this work is the Orangewood Substation, located at 7th Street and E. Glendale Ave. APS upgraded equipment in the substation to ensure reliable service to the growing area.
  • When problems do arise, APS has more than 400 first responders trained and ready in the field to restore power. It’s the company’s commitment to Arizona and communities across the state to keep the lights on – no matter what – that make the work performed throughout the year so important.
 
 
APS serves about 2.7 million people in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is the Southwest’s foremost producer of clean safe and reliable electricity. Using a balanced energy mix that is nearly 50 percent carbon-free, APS has one of the country’s most substantial renewable energy portfolios, and owns and operates the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the country’s top power producer and largest producer of carbon-free energy.  The company is also a proven leader in introducing technology and services that offer customers choice and control over their energy consumption.  With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (NYSE: PNW).

“Last year, parts of Arizona were hit with hurricane-strength winds and heavy rain,” ... “We spent the offseason evaluating potential vulnerable areas of our grid and proactively replaced and upgraded equipment. We know our customers depend on us to provide reliable service to their homes and businesses. The work we did has made a difference this summer, and we continue to look for ways to improve.”
- Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Operations. ​