After hurricane-strength winds destroyed utility poles in last week’s storm, Phoenix-based Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) followed right behind, well prepared to clean up after the storm disrupted power for hundreds of thousands of area electricity customers.
Five powerful storms have hammered the Phoenix metro area in the last three weeks, with winds of 90 mph knocking over 485 utility poles — 81 percent more than last year’s total. On Aug. 31 alone, 145 poles snapped or were bent in half.
“We track the weather on a daily basis, so we know what’s rolling in and can prepare our employees to mobilize quickly if a storm hits,” Ted Geisler, APS director of transmission operations and maintenance, said. “There have been several occasions this summer when…we knew immediately that our crews would be faced with the challenging task of rebuilding parts of our system.”
APS prepares for the summer storm season annually, with crews at the ready to face field issues and equipment accessible and in top condition. APS first-responders typically replace power poles, wiring, transformers and other apparatus as needed to restore power during outages. Depending on location conditions, downed wooden poles are replaced by more durable steel whenever possible.
“We know how inconvenient and uncomfortable a service disruption can be – especially during an Arizona summer, when temperatures rarely dip below 100 degrees,” Geisler said. “Our goal is to keep the lights on. Our linemen, construction and vegetation management crews work around the clock … when these powerful monsoons strike. Our commitment to public service is something we take very seriously, and we want our customers to know that when the lights go out, we’re working to restore power and make our system whole.”
As Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, APS serves nearly 1.2 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. In the most recent J.D. Power customer-satisfaction survey, APS ranked second overall in power quality and reliability.