For Immediate Release: July 2, 2020
Kingman, Ariz. – As summer begins, UniSource Energy Services is well prepared for the season’s soaring temperatures and powerful thunderstorms thanks to system upgrades that have strengthened the company’s local energy grids.
System upgrades were prioritized in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties to ensure the most critical projects were completed in time to serve customers during hot summer weather. These improvements were designed to strengthen UniSource’s electric system and help reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.
For example, crews recently completed an approximately $5 million upgrade of the Havasu Substation in Lake Havasu City, which included the replacement of all breakers and relays in the substation and installation of new communications equipment. UniSource also recently invested about $3.5 million in the Franconia Substation, located about halfway between Kingman and Lake Havasu City, where crews installed a new 69-kilovolt (kV) transformer, breakers and switchgear.
In Nogales, UniSource completed a $2 million upgrade of the Valencia Substation, including a new 138-kV transformer and other improvements.
Investment in system upgrades and outage prevention programs throughout UniSource’s electric service territories are improving reliability, reducing average customer outage times by about 45 minutes over the past two years. UniSource tracks 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 about 103 minutes in 2017, UniSource improved its scores in 2018 and 2019 to 48 and 58 minutes, respectively.
This year’s summer preparations also included planning for possible COVID-19 impacts. UniSource 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.
UniSource is ready to operate our local energy grids 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 UniSource’s continual efforts to improve our local energy grids, powerful summer storms can damage equipment and cause power outages. If outages occur, UniSource is ready to respond.
Customers can learn about weather conditions, report outages and receive updates about UniSource’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 UniSource’s outage map at uesaz.com.
You also can report outages using My Account on uesaz.com or by calling our Customer Care team at 1-877-837-4968. 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 Summer 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 uesaz.com/outage-preparation-tips.
UniSource provides electric service to more than 96,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties. The company also provides natural gas to more than 160,000 customers in northern and southern Arizona. For more information about UniSource, visit uesaz.com. UniSource 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. To learn more, visit fortisinc.com.
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