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2018 Arizona monsoon storms have knocked power companies for a loop

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PHOENIX — A parade of powerful storms have damaged or destroyed almost 400 utility poles this summer, about four times as many as last year combined.

Arizona Public Service has lost 250 power poles, bringing down hundreds of yards of transmission lines when they fell. Salt River Project has lost 143 power poles.

“We’re potentially at a record pace for damage, work orders and crews that we’ve had in the field to repair the damage we’ve experienced,” SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said Wednesday.

The two power companies only lost 107 combined in 2016-2017.

And that damage included seven large metal transmission towers that were toppled by high winds.

Those towers support lines carrying 500,000 volts of electricity and are designed to stand up to hurricane force winds of 90-100 mph.

“You see those towers across Arizona. Seven of those failing within a month of time is unprecedented,” Harelson said.

Those towers have a designation for the most severe storms called level one. SRP has dealt with six storms of that magnitude since the monsoon season began.

Four of those storms hit the Valley in the past week. In all of 2016-17, there were seven such storms.

Harelson said crews have been working long hours under extraordinary circumstances to make repairs and restore power as quickly as possible.

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