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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.

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  • APSWorld Class Arizona with Arizona's largest and longest-serving electricity utility. APS serves more than 1.2 million customers in 11 of the state's 15 counties.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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