PHOENIX — Data gathered Thursday showed so far, the Valley has seen far more outages this monsoon compared to recent years, and our state’s power companies agreed on the culprit.
Monsoon storms appeared to show no mercy to anything in their path this season including power lines and the customers they bring energy to.
Andrew Stone and his wife witnessed the power of this season’s winds Wednesday night.
“We saw the telephone poles start to bend and I noticed that they weren’t going back up,” Stone said.
Mikel Cole, the director of distribution operations with the Arizona Public Service Company (APS), said this was the worst he had seen it since 2015.
“The last two we kind of got off easy,” Cole said.
The numbers spoke for themselves.
“We lost more poles in that one individual storm than we did all of those four months during 2017,” Cole said.
From June 1 to the start of October 2017, storms took out 207 APS poles. In comparison, the single storm on July 9, 2018, alone beat that by nearly two dozen poles, knocking down 230.
Last month’s storms left nearly 60 percent more APS customers (153,442) without power when compared to July 2017 (97,814).
Salt River Project (SRP) power and water spokesperson, Patty Garcia-Likens, compared monsoon 2015, when it lost 118 poles, to the hit it took during just the first three storms in 2018—100 poles.
Both Cole and Garcia-Likens blamed severe winds from this year’s monsoon for this season’s increased outages. They said the gusts blew over power poles and lines or anything not bolted down into them.
According to APS, this July, it saw 580 storm-related outages. That was the most it had seen for that month over the last five years.