EP Electric: Arizona Wildfire Threatens Power Transmission Lines

Lines in danger carry 40% of EPE's available generated power

POSTED: 06:18 PM MDT Jun 25, 2012    UPDATED: 05:16 AM MDT Jun 07, 2011 

El Paso Electric officials are warning of potential damage to power lines from the massive Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona.

In a release to ABC-7, officials say the Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona is "dangerously close to key transmission line facilities located near Springerville, Arizona." According to published reports, the fire has consumed more than 486 square miles and is now the 2nd worst fire in the history of Arizona.

EPE official estimate at the current rate of speed, the fire is expected to reach the Springerville line within the next three days.

According to El Paso Electric, they own one 345 kV transmission line and co-owns another 345 kV line that carry power from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona to EPE's Southern New Mexico/West Texas service territory. Officials with the company add that these lines also carry power to other utilities which may be adversely impacted.

The rest of the release deals with the potential fallout from the lines being damaged. That section of the release reads, in part:

"In the event that the transmission lines are compromised or damaged as a result of fires or other threats, EPE's capability to import power from Palo Verde may be reduced and as a result EPE may have to institute power curtailment/conservation measures. Some of these measures may include rolling blackouts."

EPE officials say they have begun to make adjustments to lessen the impact to their customers, should the lines be damaged by the growing fire. They conclude the release by saying, "If EPE determines that curtailment/conservation measures are required, El Paso Electric will inform customers, government agencies, and the news media of the need to curtail power in EPE's service territory."