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Summer of 2017 Rewrote APS Energy Records

Oct. 18, 2017
Energy use records, new technologies and a historic solar eclipse defined the season

When the sun wasn’t being obscured by the moon this summer, it produced enough heat for customers to break Arizona energy records, even as new technologies worked to increase efficiency and reliability across the Grand Canyon State.

Microgrids and large batteries came onto the scene in Arizona in 2017, delivering increased reliability to millions of APS customers. This reliability was reinforced by a new operating system – the Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) – adopted by APS to increase grid resiliency and shorten outage times for customers. In addition, APS rebuilt parts of the grid after the summer wildfire season, and ensured power to customers during a historic solar eclipse. While the eclipse cut solar output by nearly 50 percent at its height, APS was fully prepared and relied on its diverse resource mix, including carbon-free nuclear power from Palo Verde Generating Station, advanced technologies and quick-start natural gas-fired plants, to provide power to customers.

“Driving past a microgrid or energy storage unit, many customers wouldn’t look twice, but those technologies are playing an increasingly important role in delivering efficient energy on the hottest days of the year,” said Jacob Tetlow, APS Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Operations.

June 2017 was the third hottest June ever recorded in the Phoenix metro area, with June 20 topping out at 119 degrees. While hot summers are nothing new to Arizona, on that day APS customers set an all-time record peak demand of 7,367 megawatts, breaking the previous record of 7,236 MW set in 2006. To meet this demand, APS relied on a diverse mix of traditional resources, as well as advanced technologies.

Microgrids in Yuma and North Phoenix provided grid resiliency on the hottest days of the year by kicking on at critical-usage times and providing power to surrounding communities. Energy storage units in Surprise and Buckeye provided nighttime power to solar customers and helped ensure reliability during the August 21 solar eclipse which reduced solar output substantially.

“Our customers’ needs are changing, technology is progressing and APS is ready for both,” said Tetlow. “Thoughtfully implementing these technologies makes our grid smarter, faster and stronger.”

The future looked even brighter this summer as APS announced plans to break ground on battery storage units in Punkin Center, AZ. The batteries will take the place of rebuilding 20 miles of power lines, providing even greater reliability to the growing community. The project is one of the first of its kind in the nation and is slated to be operational by next summer.

APS also experienced its first summer with its Advanced Distribution Management System or ADMS. ADMS is an advanced operating system that provides grid operators increased visibility and accessibility to power lines across the state. The ability to remotely control lines played an important role in APS’s response to the Goodwin fire in June. APS crews worked long hours, coordinating with state and local officials, to de-energize power lines and help ensure the safety of both first responders and local residents. After fire crews from across the country extinguished the blaze, APS quickly and safely reenergized lines as residents returned to their homes and businesses.

While the summer of 2017 will surely go down in the history books, the technology tested will lead the way to Arizona’s energy future.

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