The summer monsoon season in Arizona can bring wild, unpredictable weather, such as driving rain, flooding, intense lightning, high winds and pounding hail.
To ensure reliable power – even during storms – Tucson Electric Power has invested nearly $1.8 billion and thousands of hours since 2018 to harden our system by installing and upgrading power lines, poles, transformers and other equipment. As a result of our efforts, TEP consistently ranks in the top quartile of all electric utilities across the country for service reliability. Our most recent scores reflect 99.99% reliability.
As a business owner or manager, you can help keep your customers and employees safe from summer storms while protecting your facilities, assets and equipment. Here are seven tips to help you prepare for severe weather before it strikes.
1. Trim Trees and Weeds and Clear Alleys
Heavy rain can contribute to the growth of trees and weeds on your property. Before the monsoon season hits, check the vegetation around your business to make sure it hasn’t grown too close to electrical equipment.
Trees that grow too close to power lines or branches that fall on lines or equipment can cause power outages, fires or other safety hazards. Property owners are responsible for keeping vegetation at least 10 feet away from power lines. If trees are within 10 feet of power lines, customers should call TEP at 520-623-7711 to schedule an inspection.
Property owners also must keep easements and alleys free from clutter, which could prevent service vehicles and crews from accessing electrical equipment and property. A City of Tucson ordinance includes potential fines for blocked alleys and easements.
2. Use Advanced Power Strips and Surge Protectors
Protect your computers, electronics and equipment by using advanced power strips and surge protectors. These devices also can help you save energy by eliminating phantom energy draw when devices are in standby mode but not in use.
TEP offers rebates of $5 per strip on select, energy-efficient smart strips for businesses. Find more details and apply on the Business Energy Solutions website.\
3. Turn off Major Electronics During a Storm
Powerful storms often produce multiple lightning strikes that can cause power surges and damage major electronics that draw a lot of energy, such as multifunction copy machines and air conditioning units.
Large electronics and appliances plugged directly into wall sockets should be turned off but not unplugged during a thunderstorm. If power is lost, be sure to leave on at least one light so you’ll know when power has been restored.
Another option is to consider installing a whole building surge protection system, which is hard wired to your circuit breaker panel. While it will not block all surges, it will protect circuits by limiting the voltage that enters your electrical system.
4. Keep Cell Phones Charged
Encourage employees to keep their mobile phones fully charged and consider providing them with backup chargers to ensure their availability during storm season.
Mobile phones are safer to use than landlines when lightning is overhead or nearby. Telephone lines – like water sources – provide a conduit for electricity from lightning strikes, potentially harming anyone on the phone or near water.
5. Check the Outage Map
Customers can find information about any outages in TEP’s service area by visiting our outage map on tep.com or using the TEP mobile app. Updated every five minutes, the outage map shows the location, size, cause and estimated restoration time for outages that affect more than 25 customers.
Mobile app users also may receive notifications if a power outage is in their area. To report a power outage, log into My Account on tep.com or submit a report on the mobile app. Reporting an outage helps our crews pinpoint the cause and extent of the outage.
6. Call TEP Customer Service
Businesses are encouraged to contact our TEP Customer Service at 520-623-7711 to report an outage or damaged equipment. However, if a utility pole or power line is down, call 911 instead for emergency service.
Our Call Center plans ahead to handle the increased demand during the busy summer months by hiring extra seasonal Customer Service Representatives to provide quicker service, especially during power outages. Customers have the option of requesting that TEP contact them when service has been restored.
For other, non-emergency assistance, businesses can contact our Commercial Call Center at 520-495-6333.
7. Review your Severe Weather Plan with Employees
Before storm season arrives, it’s always a good idea to review severe weather plans and protocols with your employees or develop a plan for your business. Your plan might include designating a safe, secure place to shelter in the building, securing any loose objects outside, logging off computers and turning off electronics and keeping stocked essentials handy, such as water, flashlights and a first aid kit.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers a number of toolkits for various severe weather scenarios that can help you create a plan to stay safe.
By following these tips, businesses can protect their employees, customers, facilities and assets when storms threaten.