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Arizona utility says it’s in shape to keep power going during wildfire season

PHOENIX — Utility company APS said it is well-positioned to keep the Valley’s air-conditioners running during the summer if wildfires take aim at major power transmission lines.

The utility has about 20,000 miles of overhead power lines in the state, much of that in the high country, so wildfires always pose a potential threat to the system. Spokesman Damon Gross said APS is ready to reroute power to the Valley if the fires threaten the lines.

“We have transmission resources in place so if we have to take a line out of service we are in good shape this summer,” Gross said, adding that it’s possible lines would have to be de-energized because firefighters will often use the area below the lines as a firebreak.

“The smoke can be a conductor and on occasion we will de-energize the lines to protect the firefighters working in the area. Under normal operating conditions APS customers should not expect to see an impact to their service as a result of our having to temporarily de-energize a line,” Gross said.

The National Interagency Fire Center said the dry winter could result in a rapid increase in fire potential in May in eastern Arizona.