Extreme heat and extreme storms, Arizona's monsoon arrives at a time when air conditioners are usually working overtime. So, when a storm knocks out power, Tucson Electric Power is under extra pressure to repair the damage and get electricity flowing again.
“That’s why we feel our job is so important, especially during the summer, because we know everyone is counting on us so they can run their air conditioning when it’s extremely hot,” said Joe Barrios, a TEP spokesman.
Barrios says crews work year-round to improve the utility's grid so when monsoon arrives they're ready.
“When it’s hot not only are customers using more power, which adds strain to the system, the ambient temperature goes up which adds stress to our equipment,” he said.
Wind from thunderstorms and even micro bursts is the most common reason power goes out. Poles can break or trees fall onto lines.
“There’s really not a lot we can do about it,” Barrios said. “We do everything we can to strengthen our system to make it as resilient as possible but basically it is us against mother nature and mother nature's going to win sometimes,” he said.
TEP it's important to be ready at home:
- Keep flashlights and batteries ready
- Keep portable cell phone chargers available
- Don't open the refrigerator or freezer to keep perishable food from spoiling
But the biggest warning from TEP: Stay away from down power lines.
Barrios says if the lights go out at home call them.
“We rely on that information to really pinpoint where has the damage occurred, how many customers are affected, and that information helps us restore service more quickly.”