While the West Coast experienced devastating wildfires in 2020, it was also one of the most treacherous wildfire seasons in Arizona, especially for power utilities. With more than 1600 fires and around 700,000 acres (283,280 hectares) burned, the 2020 wildfire season totaled more than Arizona’s 2018 and 2019 seasons combined. These conditions, pooled with the safety precautions and implications associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, made electric system operations across the state challenging, to say the least.
For Salt River Project (SRP), the wildfires took a great toll, damaging the utility’s T&D and communications systems. Though the fire damage was some of the worst the organization had ever experienced, SRP found new ways to improve its operating procedures, incident command structure, and general response to fires — successfully serving load during summer despite unusually high demand and wildfire disruptions.
If the unparalleled year taught SRP anything, it was to expect the unexpected and continue pushing forward. For the full article that appeared in the December 2020 issue of T&D World, see Grid Reliability in the Face of Record Wildfires and Pandemic.
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