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​​may 4, 2017
​investments create cleaner, stronger and smarter energy grid for customers
​rate review supports projects to build more advanced system, maintain reliability
PHOENIX – Building the energy grid of the future for APS customers takes plenty of planning, budgeting and investing in the present. The company’s 2016 rate review outlines the need for projects that will create a cleaner, stronger and more advanced energy grid for customers.

APS is devoting $1 billion annually to infrastructure updates and maintenance in the next three years. The projects range from replacing decades-old wires buried directly in the ground to a top-tier operations program that provides more real-time grid management capabilities and improves system flexibility to integrate new distributed energy resources.​

“Our customers need access to safe, reliable and low-cost electricity around the clock, and they also want the choice to take advantage of new technologies and control their energy costs better,” said Daniel Froetscher, Senior Vice President of Transmission, Distribution and Customers for APS. “The rate review, which must be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, provides the funding needed for the responsible, cost-effective investments we are making in the energy grid to meet our customers’ needs and expectations.”​

 

Projects that are setting the stage for the grid of the future include:

 

·         Installation of technologically advanced devices that increase real-time visibility of the grid – such as supervisory control switches, communicating fault indicators, and supervisory control and data acquisition equipment – that help operators run it more efficiently and improve reliability for customers.  The devices enable operators to locate problems on the system remotely, reducing troubleshooting time, and provide real-time information that helps them to re-route power around failed equipment and keep the lights on for customers. These technologies can reduce the number and duration of outages for customers, enhancing service and public safety.

 

·         An Advanced Distribution Management System that works in conjunction with the technologically advanced devices and other equipment to increase the grid’s efficiency. The system, which launched in January, improves real-time communications between the operations center and field users, especially during outage response. The system also enables operators to have a better view of distributed energy resources, such as private rooftop solar systems, on the grid to help them manage power flow more effectively and strengthen reliability.

While advanced technology grabs people’s attention, maintenance of lines, poles, substations, capacitors, regulators, meters and other equipment remains a significant part of APS’s obligation to serve customers across Arizona. Major maintenance projects include:

·         A replacement program for cable that was buried directly underground, a common utility practice until the mid-1980s, with new cable installed in conduit. The old lines are beyond the end of their useful life, which has resulted in an increase in cable failures. The program eventually will replace all direct buried cable, resulting in fewer cable failures and increased reliability.

 

·         An ongoing replacement program in which APS inspects aged wood poles at routine intervals for termite damage and wood rot. The suspect poles are replaced with new wood or steel poles, depending on accessibility for crews.

 

At the core of the planning and budgeting process APS uses for these projects are effective cost-management practices. After adjusting for inflation, expenses associated with energy delivery on the APS system are 7 percent lower compared to 2011. The cost reductions were accomplished while the company’s customer base increased by 1.1 percent annually during the same period.

“The need to invest in the system for both short- and long-term reliability, while at the same time driving down costs, is one of our most difficult and complex challenges,” Froetscher said. “Even though our customer base continues to grow each year, we have effectively maintained rigorous cost-management principles to keep expenses lower, which ultimately benefits customers.”

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).​
"The rate review, which must be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, provides the funding needed for the responsible, cost-effective investments we are making in the energy grid to meet our customers’ needs and expectations
- Daniel Froetscher, Senior Vice President of Transmission, Distribution and Customers