SRP Grid, Employees and Customers Withstood a Wet and Wild 2022 Monsoon
In many ways, Monsoon 2022 proved to be “pretty typical” according to Salt River Project’s director of Distribution Maintenance, however it will also go down in the record books.
“On July 17th, we had a storm that caused more damage to SRP’s system than any event in more than 20 years,” said SRP’s Bret Marchese. “We lost 173 (12 kilovolt) distribution poles and 23 (69 kV) transmission poles in that one night throughout our service territory. Our dedicated line crews and response teams worked long, hard hours after the storms and did an outstanding job swiftly getting all of our customers back in power without an incident or accident. Their unique training and preparation always make a difference.”
According to Marchese, during a “typical to light storm season” SRP replaces between 30 to 40 wood distribution poles, which are up to 45 feet tall. During a busy monsoon, that number jumps to an average of 120 distribution poles.
“In one week alone (in July), our crews replaced as many poles as they typically do for the whole summer,” noted Robert Horn, SRP Field Maintenance manager over Distribution Line Maintenance. “Crews from across the company worked around the clock to repair SRP’s distribution system, which transports electricity from substations to homes to keep the power flowing through SRP’s grid.”
SRP’s Distribution Operation Center (DOC) declared six Level 1 storms from June to the first week in October. According to Marchese, a Level 1 storm means “it’s all hands-on deck” because intense weather conditions can wreak havoc.
“SRP is among the top-ranked utilities in the nation for safety and reliable electric service,” said Joel Stitt, SRP’s DOC manager. “Thankfully, our employees are highly trained and well-prepared. In addition, SRP’s uniquely robust loop system provides multiple paths into neighborhoods allowing us to get customers back in power quickly. On average for any one storm this summer, SRP crews hit their goals of restoring power to 99 to 100 percent of all customers in well under 24 hours.”
SRP’s Distribution System consists of 30,000 miles of underground and overhead lines and equipment operating from 22,000 volts down to 120 volts. Eighty percent of the system is buried underground, and 20 percent is overhead.
“Primarily, when equipment failures occur it is caused by rust and corrosion. Our line crews work year-round to inspect and replace SRP distribution poles,” added Marchese. “We inspect more than 12,000 poles per year and replace approximately 2,000. In addition, we inspect and replace more than 2,0000 older distribution transformers a year with new stainless-steel units for a more resilient asset.”
- SRP’s service territory is 2900 square miles across parts of three counties (Maricopa, Gila and Pinal). We serve more than 1 million customers.
- Most of SRP’s system is looped, meaning there is more than one path electricity can travel to serve a customer. This increases reliability because SRP can switch customer load to an alternate path, or circuit, when there is a problem with the usual path.
SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest electricity provider in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving approximately 1.1 million customers. SRP provides water to about half of the Valley’s residents, delivering more than 244 billion gallons of water (750,000 acre-feet) each year, and manages a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes an extensive system of reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.