Tucson, Ariz. – With the arrival of higher temperatures and powerful thunderstorms, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) stands ready for the challenges of summer with recent improvements to our local energy grid.
TEP’s year-round system upgrades have improved reliability by reducing the average length of power outages attributed to maintenance, equipment failure, weather and other factors.
In 2022 alone, TEP spent more than $290 million to improve power lines, poles, transformers and other transmission and distribution facilities used to deliver service to customers every day.
“We work throughout the year to prepare for summer, when our customers’ energy needs are the greatest,” said David Wagner, TEP Director of Transmission & Distribution Line Construction and Metering. “During summer months, we increase the number of employees who work late shifts so we can more quickly respond to late afternoon storm damage and other emergencies.”
TEP annually replaces about 1,200 poles due to storm or vehicle damage, routine maintenance, system upgrades and line relocations. Monsoon storms typically damage about 100 poles and 50 transformers each summer. To ensure sufficient equipment is on hand for emergency restoration, our procurement team temporarily increases the inventory for critical items and sets aside materials to guarantee availability over the summer.
TEP crews have completed several projects since last summer to improve service reliability for customers.
Last month, crews commissioned the Tangerine Mobile Substation, a critical system reinforcement project designed to support growing energy needs in the Marana area. The temporary facility will help provide reliable service to customers as TEP develops a new, permanent substation.
At the Canoa Ranch Substation south of Green Valley, substation crews installed two new, higher-capacity transformers in March to replace units that had been in service for more than 50 years. Insulation in both units showed signs of deterioration, and an analysis of maintenance history and outages indicated both units were nearing the end of their useful lives.
The $5 million upgrade included installation of new switching equipment, fuses, and circuit breakers. Crews completed a similar $3 million upgrade at the Oro Valley Substation, located near North Oracle Road and North 1st Avenue, in February with installation of a new transformer and other equipment.
Since 2020, TEP has accelerated efforts to replace older poles, using resistance testing to identify those that most need replacement. All distribution poles and pad-mounted equipment are visually inspected or tested every three years.
Since last summer, crews replaced more than 100 power poles in the El Rio Acres neighborhood, located near West Grant Road and Interstate 10. Construction started in August 2022 and continued through March. The project was designed to improve the resiliency of distribution equipment that delivers service to area customers.
TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to more than 442,000 customers in Southern Arizona. For more information, visit tep.com. TEP and its parent company, UNS Energy, are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc. (TSX/NYSE: FTS), 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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