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5:27 AM Mon, Jan. 21st

Utility companies do not fear power shortages for the summer<BR>

Contrary to press reports of power shortages anticipated throughout the country this summer, representatives of the two electric utilities serving the Kingman area do not expect any because their supply is sufficient.

"We don't expect anything particularly in the way of shortages this summer," said Resal Craven, director of engineering for the electric division of Citizens Utilities in Arizona.

"There is sufficient (electric) generation to carry the expected (customer) load in our service area" in the Southwest.

"I don't expect anything unless there is an unusual combination of equipment failures or transmission line outages," Craven said.

"We do know that it has been very dry, and there have been incidents of fires under transmission lines" that triggered temporary outages.

Citizens, which has about 60,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz counties, draws its electric supply from Arizona Public Service, Craven said.

He estimated the total customer load, including business and residential, at 280 megawatts in the two counties during the hottest month of the summer.

Each megawatt serves about 1,000 people, according to Craig Nesbit, manager of generation communications for Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the Phoenix-based parent company of APS.

Craven's optimism is shared by Diane Valentine, manager of public affairs for the Mohave Electric Cooperative, based in Bullhead City.

The co-op serves about 7,000 customers in areas outlying Kingman, including the Hualapai Mountains, Valentine, Truxton, Peach Springs and Wikieup.

"While there is no power system that is fail-safe, we have plenty of generation available for northwestern Arizona," Valentine said.

"We are not expecting any brownouts or blackouts.

We've got plenty of electric supply available."

Mohave Electric is one of six part-owners of a 520-megawatt coal-fired plant in Benson, and has a firm allocation of electric generation from the plant, Valentine said.

The coal plant is similar in megawatt production to three natural gas-fired plants in the works for Mohave County: the Griffith Energy Project under construction off Griffith Road and Interstate 40, Calpine's South Point Plant under construction on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation and the Big Sandy Energy Project proposed for the Wikieup area.

The 13 gas-fired power plants in the works for Arizona are expected to respond to the growing demand for electricity.

Spurred on by a growing economy and increased reliance on computers and other devices, electric demand is rising nationally about 2 percent a year, while generation has lagged because new power plants have not kept up with the pace of demand.

However, the so-called "merchant" plants, which are being built and operated by independent companies and not by utilities, will not market their power directly to consumers, industry officials have said.

Instead, the plants will place the additional generation on the power grid overseen by the Western Area Power Administration, which serves a 14-state region that includes Arizona.

WAPA, a branch of the U.S.

Department of Energy, oversees the flow of power on the transmission lines in its region, said Melissa Chiechi, a WAPA spokeswoman based in Phoenix.

Each season, WAPA does an assessment of the operating conditions on the transmission lines to determine whether the supply of electricity on the lines is under or above capacity or the right amount, she added.

"We oversee anything that is going through our transmission system, matching generation to what sort of load or need is out there," Chiechi said.

WAPA also supplies wholesale power to the Fort Mojave tribe, Fredonia, Needles, other public agencies, rural co-ops and irrigation districts through contracts with those entities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.