A sudden spike in energy usage Saturday renewed concerns that power companies might have to pull the plug in some areas to prevent uncontrolled blackouts, an Arizona Public Service spokeswoman said.
However, APS officials say help is on the way — in the form of a new transformer to replace one of a group that was damaged by fire July 4 at a West Valley power substation.
The new transformer, which weighs 400,000 pounds, must be transported by barge and "heavy hauler" truck from Washington state, which will take at least two weeks. Gov. Janet Napolitano helped expedite the permitting process to move the transformer.
Despite a much-lauded, communitywide effort to keep power use at a minimum during the past week, the possibility of temporary outages returned Saturday because of higher-than-expected energy consumption, APS spokeswoman Sheri Foote said.
Foote urged Valley residents to continue cutting back on electricity use wherever possible, especially during the peak hours of 3 to 6 p.m.
"At this point, energy use is as high, if not higher, than it has been throughout the week," she said.
A concerted effort by residential and commercial customers has helped avert crisis thus far, APS and Salt River Project officials have said, along with the repair of a partially damaged transformer on Thursday.