PHOENIX — Mother Nature apparently has no use for the calendar, with the excessive heat already here a month early. As soon as temperatures soar above 115 degrees, air conditioners will run nonstop.
Monday was a brutal day to start the week. The Duke Photography thermometer on 7th Avenue was 113 degrees at 1 p.m., four hours before APS hits its peak usage time.
“It’s extremely busy right now and today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week, sure feels like summer,” said Jacob Tetlow, Executive Vice President for APS Operations.
This summer is looking like a repeat of last year when temperatures reached or exceeded 110 degrees on 53 different days. Temperatures also reached or exceeded 115 degrees on 14 days in 2020.
“Customers should feel good about where we sit and we feel good about where we sit,” Tetlow said. “Not to suggest there isn’t a lot of load out there but we have everything running that we can run and we’re ready.”
Preparing for extreme weather events is only half the battle for utility companies. The nation’s power grid is a target for cyber terrorists.
“Unfortunately those types of situations present themselves on a daily basis,” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, the former director of Arizona’s Department of Emergency Management and now an ABC15 consultant.
APS won’t talk about its cybersecurity strategy, except to say it relies on multiple layers of protection and it includes partnerships with federal and state government. Wendy Smith-Reeve says Arizona’s utility companies have robust cybersecurity.
“When it comes to those who are trying to thwart those bad actors they have to be correct and accurate 100% of the time. The bad actor only has to be correct once," Smith-Reeve said.
APS is projecting usage will reach 7,700 megawatts during its peak usage Monday and Tuesday, which is double the electricity it needs on a typical spring or fall day.
“Summer is our season,” APS’ Tetlow said. “We work very hard to make sure we can manage the forest fire situation, the heat waves and in August, the storm season as well.”