UniSource is making significant investments in local substations to help meet customers’ growing energy needs, especially during summer months when energy use is highest.

In 2022 alone, UniSource made more than $40 million in improvements to power lines, poles, transformers and other transmission and distribution systems used to deliver service to customers every day. Many of those projects included new or upgraded substations, which play a crucial role in powering homes and businesses by changing voltage to safe and appropriate levels.

Those upgrades are critical during the summer, when temperatures are high, customers’ energy needs increase and our energy grid is placed under the greatest stress.

“Summertime is when customers rely on our service the most, so we work hard year-round on system upgrades,” said Roberto Guevara, UniSource Director of Gas, Electric and Operational Excellence. “Improvements at our substations can provide more capacity to serve customers and give us more flexibility to get the lights back on in the event of an outage.”

UniSource crews completed some projects in time for summer, while work continues on others. It can take a few years to design, permit and build a new substation.

In Kingman, UniSource completed construction of the new $7 million Walnut Creek Substation, located south of town near Interstate 40 and Shinarump Road. The substation will provide additional capacity to improve reliability and support an older substation located about 11 miles to the southwest. The new substation is designed to help satisfy the growing energy needs of residential, commercial and industrial customers in the area.

Work also continues on power line upgrades that will interconnect with the planned Meadview Substation. This year alone, UniSource will spend about $2 million on power line upgrades and about $4 million on the new substation. Substation construction is underway and will be complete by the end of this year. Crews are working to bring related distribution system upgrades into service before the end of summer.

In Lake Havasu City, work crews are expanding the capacity of UniSource’s Mulberry Substation, located near State Route 95 and Mulberry Avenue. The improvements will allow UniSource to install a new circuit that will provide greater flexibility to system operators while accommodating a new housing development in the area. The $1.6 million upgrade for the substation and related improvements are scheduled to be completed in 2024. Crews also completed installation of new communications equipment that will improve our system operators’ ability to monitor our local energy grid and promptly respond to outages.

In early 2022, UniSource acquired land in Rio Rico that could become the site of a new, permanent substation designed to support growing customer energy needs. Peak energy use in the area increased 13 percent in 2021, driving systemwide usage to a new all-time high. Last year, UniSource installed a mobile substation next to our Sonoita Substation, providing a temporary expansion of system capacity and support for reliable summertime service. The new parcel, located near the Interstate 19 frontage road and Avenue Acaponeta, was identified as a potential site due to the amount of available land, proximity to our existing 138-kilovolt transmission system and other factors. Construction is expected to begin in 2025.

With more than 100,000 electric customers, our communities’ growing energy needs contributed to a 16-percent increase in UniSource’s peak demand between 2015 and 2021. These needs are expected to escalate in the near future, with forecasts predicting an increase in peak energy usage by 1 percent annually over the next few years.

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