Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service reached records over the summer as rain and high winds produced widespread damage and power outages.
“On July 17th, we had a storm that caused more damage to SRP’s system than any event in more than 20 years,” said Bret Marchese, director of distribution maintenance for the Tempe-based utility.
“We lost 173 distribution poles and 23 transmission poles in that one night throughout our service territory.”
From May through September, APS crews replaced a record 811 damaged power poles, according to a release.
If those poles were arranged end to end on the ground, they would measure 7 miles long, APS officials said, adding crews typically replace approximately 290 poles during the four-month period.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience during what was an unusually active monsoon season as many parts of our service territory experienced strong storms over an extended period of time,” Tony Tewelis, APS vice president of transmission distribution, said.
According to the National Weather Service, many areas of Arizona experienced up to 200% of normal monsoon rainfall amounts, APS stated in its release, adding Phoenix and Flagstaff saw above-normal lightning strikes, and wind gusts surpassed 80 mph.
In one week in mid-July, APS officials said crews worked around the clock to replace more than 400 damaged power poles following a string of storms across Arizona.
SRP also had a busy July.
“In one week alone, our crews replaced as many poles as they typically do for the whole summer,” said Robert Horn, a utility manager who deals with distribution line maintenance.
“Crews from across the company worked around the clock to repair SRP’s distribution system, which transports electricity from substations to homes to keep the power flowing through SRP’s grid.”
SRP’s Distribution Operation Center declared six Level 1 storms from June to the first week in October.
A Level 1 storm means “it’s all hands on deck,” Marchese said.