For Immediate Release: July 2, 2020
Tucson, Ariz. – As summer begins, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will be well prepared for the season’s soaring temperatures and powerful thunderstorms thanks to system improvements that are strengthening its local energy grid.
TEP is nearing completion of the approximately $25 million Irvington to Kino 138-kilovolt (kV) transmission line project, which includes a new 4.5-mile 138-kV transmission line and 138-kV substation located at South Kino Parkway and East 36th Street. The substation includes two new transformers, new circuit breakers, switchgear and capacitor banks. The new facilities will strengthen electric reliability for customers and meet growing energy needs in the area.
In midtown Tucson, TEP has nearly completed a $7.5 million upgrade of the Country Club Substation, where two transformers were replaced and new components were installed. Several related distribution line upgrades were completed over the last 18 months. Crews recently completed installation of a new 138-kV transformer and switchgear at the Los Reales Substation in southeast Tucson. Crews also installed 28 new 46-kV power poles to upgrade circuits interconnected through the North Loop Substation on Tucson’s north side.
Over the last five years, TEP has invested approximately $1.2 billion to maintain and improve its service while transitioning to a cleaner, more flexible and resilient energy portfolio. TEP’s modern electrical grid spans 1,155 square miles and includes approximately 5,100 miles of transmission and distribution lines, plus more than 4,300 miles of underground distribution lines.
Investment in system upgrades and outage prevention programs are improving reliability, reducing average customer outage times by more than 15 minutes over the past two years. The duration of outages attributed to maintenance, equipment failure, weather and other factors with a metric called the System Average Interruption Duration Index, or SAIDI. After posting a SAIDI of 72 minutes in 2017, the company improved its scores in 2018 and 2019 to 50 and 55 minutes, respectively.
This year’s summer preparations also included planning for possible COVID-19 impacts. TEP has remained vigilant during the coronavirus pandemic, adapting work methods to protect our employees and public health while strengthening our local energy grid in time for summer. To limit unnecessary risks of exposure, employees are now wearing face coverings, following social distancing guidelines, cleaning tools and equipment regularly, and limiting vehicle sharing. Crews are split into smaller teams, work schedules are more varied and daily safety briefings are held in more locations with smaller groups than usual.
TEP is ready to operate our local energy grid with a reduced workforce, if necessary, and is working with neighboring utilities and reliability authorities to ensure reliable grid operations.
Stay Informed about Power Outages
Despite TEP’s continual efforts to improve our local energy grid, powerful summer storms can damage equipment and cause power outages. If outages occur, TEP is ready to respond.
Customers can learn about weather conditions, report outages and receive updates about TEP’s restoration efforts by using our mobile app, which can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play. You also can view outages on TEP’s outage map at tep.com.
You also can report outages using My Account on tep.com or by calling our Customer Care team at 520-623-7711. Using our automated system, we can call to let you know when your service is restored. Reporting outages helps to identify potential causes and speed the restoration of service.
Be Prepared for Monsoon Storms
Summertime thunderstorms can bring damaging winds, rain and lightning that causes power outages. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare.
Before the storm
- Check weather reports daily and watch the sky. Storms can develop quickly.
- Ready.gov recommends keeping a “storm kit” in a designated place, replenished as needed with essential items that include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, bottled or fresh water for household members and pets for up to three days, nonperishable food and medications.
- To prevent frozen food from spoiling if there is an outage, fill plastic gallon milk jugs with water and place them in your freezer to keep food items cold.
- Consider turning off your air conditioning and unplugging non-critical electronics.
During the storm
- Stay away from downed power lines. Never touch them. If you see a downed line or other damaged equipment, call 911 right away.
- If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain in the car and call 911 using your mobile phone. Warn others to keep away from the power line until help arrives. Never drive over a downed line. If you see crews making repairs, keep your distance from our trucks and equipment for your own safety.
- Avoid showering, washing dishes or using corded electrical devices like a landline telephone. Electricity can travel through electrical wiring and plumbing in your home.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
After the storm
- Wait at least 30 minutes from the last clap of thunder before resuming normal activities.
- Watch for downed power lines. If you see one, always assume it is energized. Stay a minimum of 10 feet away and call 911 immediately.
For more tips on storm preparedness, visit tep.com/outage-preparation.
TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to approximately 429,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc., which owns utilities that serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. For more information, visit fortisinc.com.
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