Tucson Electric Power is partnering with the Town of Oro Valley to move part of the town’s electrical infrastructure underground and make other upgrades, providing more reliability while also meeting the area’s planning needs.

TEP is leveraging the timing of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s planned roadway project improvements with necessary system upgrades.

The utility has invested $5.5 million in upgrades to its Rancho Vistoso substation, as well as new distribution circuit links for Tangerine and Oracle roads. This boosted TEP’s investment in the project to more than $10 million total.

The Rancho Vistoso substation is the primary power distribution source in the fast-growing northern part of Oro Valley, and the area’s growth was risking overloading circuits and shortening the lifespan of crucial equipment.

With the load forecast to increase by more than 30 percent from 2011 to 2018 to accommodate growth in the number of commercial, industrial and residential customers, upgrades became necessary.

“To safely provide reliable power in the area, we added a third transformer in the Rancho Vistoso substation. The upgrade allows us to continue providing reliable service to Oro Valley,” said Bill Darmitzel, TEP’s Director of Distribution Planning Engineering.

To cover the additional underground construction costs without impacting customers’ rates, the Town of Oro Valley dedicated $2.1 million to the project.

“Oro Valley would like the lines to be underground, so we’re working with the town to make it happen,” said Susan Gray, Transmission & Distribution Senior Director at TEP.

TEP’s underground work began in January and will run through June. The Oracle Road project runs from Tangerine Road to just north of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard, and the Tangerine Road project runs from La Cholla Boulevard to La Canada Drive.

“The partnership meets both of our needs – we provide safe, reliable and cost-effective energy to our customers, and Oro Valley abides by its planning model for the community,” Gray said. “It’s a win-win.”

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