Power grab

UniSource set to meet energy needs of growing communities

KINGMAN – Blackouts and power outages often occur in high growth areas during hot months when air conditioners and swamp coolers kick into overdrive. As more people are added to the power grid, customers wonder whether their power company is staying ahead of the curve.

“The state is in real good shape as far as generation goes. Transmission is where we’re somewhat constrained,” said Joe Salkowski, spokesman for UniSource Energy, the electrical power supplier for the Kingman area, Lake Havasu City and a small portion of Bullhead City.

Salkowski said that long-range planning is critical for new transmission lines and involves a large degree of coordination with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state authority on regulating utilities.

Power generation is in good shape, he said. UniSource receives all of its power from the Pinnacle West Corporation, a Phoenix-based company that generates and sells electricity to retail and wholesale customers throughout the western United States.

Pinnacle West is also the parent company of Arizona Public Service and co-owner of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

Upgrading and adding new facilities are ongoing concerns, he said, naming projects in the works for Lake Havasu City and in the Kingman area.

UniSource added a new transformer at its London Bridge substation in Lake Havasu to serve growing needs in that area as well as a new substation north of town in anticipation of more housing and commercial development. The company upgraded its Jagerson substation in Kingman last year to serve growth north of town and this year will begin construction of a new substation in Golden Valley.

That project involves laying a seven-mile transmission line from the existing Golden Valley substation, he said.

Salkowski said UniSource is also upgrading its eastern substation near Kingman Crossing along Interstate 40 to meet growth demands expected in that area. “We’re constantly making these kinds of improvements,” he said.

UniSource will utilize this year a mobile substation at different locations throughout the county both as an accessory backup and in the event of a substation failure. Salkowski said the company plans improvements to sustain needs based on five to 10-year projections. “We’re always planning years in advance to handle what’s on the horizon,” he said.