UniSource Energy Services is upgrading natural gas facilities and building new infrastructure in the Prescott area to accommodate public improvement projects and population growth.
Prescott district team members recently rerouted several gas lines in downtown Prescott and upgraded a regulator station a few blocks west of the landmark Yavapai County Courthouse.
“There are a number of public improvement projects taking place. Often times, such projects will require us to relocate our existing facilities,” said Teresa Inman, District Manager for Prescott Gas Operations. “That gives us an opportunity to upgrade our system as well.”
The City of Prescott is in the process of replacing water mains, sewer mains and drainage features, while also repaving roadways and installing new curbs on multiple streets throughout the downtown area. To accommodate the relocation of those underground utilities, UniSource relocated underground gas facilities as well. Aging steel pipes, some installed approximately 50 years ago, were replaced with new, higher-gauge steel pipes and new fittings.
Planners determined that an upgraded regulator station with newer, more efficient components could help reduce future operating costs while supporting the relocated infrastructure. Design of the regulator station began in June and construction was completed in September.
Regulator stations help to control the follow of natural gas, adjusting pressure to levels appropriate for delivery to homes and businesses. These stations also include relief valves and other safety measures that help to ensure the safe, reliable delivery of natural gas to customers in the area.
Transportation projects are not exclusive to Prescott. In nearby Prescott Valley, UniSource crews recently completed replacement of more than 6,300 feet of gas lines to accommodate new water, sewer and storm drain facilities along an approximately one-mile stretch of East Sunset Lane, a joint project of the Town of Prescott Valley and Yavapai County. Transportation improvements also include street widening and the addition of sidewalks.
UniSource began supporting that project in July 2018 and completed its work in September 2019. More than 30 service lines were relocated and reconnected to accommodate the work.
Continued growth also has driven multiple system improvement projects. Population in the region has more than doubled since 1996 and continues to grow nearly 2 percent annually, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Department of Administration.
UniSource crews in the region are managing more than 35 public improvement projects, and installed more than 43,500 feet of new gas main lines and more than 42,600 feet of new service lines in the first nine months of this year. Crews also have plans for work on more than 30 gas main line extensions and nearly 90 service lines in new housing developments.
UniSource’s gas service territory spans 56,240 square miles throughout Arizona. Employees maintain 4,600 miles of pipelines that deliver natural gas to 160,000 customers in 39 communities. On average, the company invests more than $15 million annually to expand and upgrade its natural gas system.