By Tony Ault
Staff Writer 

AEC reports all power on, better than before the Cranston Fire emergency


Last updated 8/31/2018 at 10:20am

Tony Ault

All Anza Electrical Cooperative power is on since it was restored Aug. 3 in the power companies service area.

Anza Electric Cooperative customers from Mountain Center to Riverside Estates are once again enjoying full electrical services after the devastating Cranston Fire last month knocked out or reduced power to many members for more than a week. The outages caused water shortages, food losses and job absences that are reminders of just how destructive wildfires can be.

It's a scary memory that will long remain in the community's minds, but in this case some real good has come of it with the knowledge that a community like Anza can, as some might say pull up their bootstraps, and do everything they can to help their family, friends and neighbors in the worst of times – like the Cranston Fire.

AEC General Manager Kevin Short reported this week that power has been restored to all customers since Aug. 3. "We are now in better shape than we were prior to the fire," noting some significant changes in the services have taken place since that time.

Edison in the process of replacing nearly 100 poles and the electrical lines along Highway 74 from Hemet and Mountain Center to Lake Hemet destroyed of damaged by the Cranston Fire, worked with AEC to upgrade the transmission lines and the wiring system that connects AEC power to Arizona's Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. The upgrades, speeded up because of the fire, have increased AEC's power capacity by 28 percent, according to Short. "We now have 19 megawatts of power up from 17 megawatts."

In addition to the increased capacity, Short said the crews have completed the installation of five weather stations across AEC's transmission system that will help determine the wind velocities, air temperatures and humidity to serve as an indicator of wildfire threats to the lines and alert repair and safety crews to potential damages.

The Cranston Fire also showed the community how AEC is able to react to emergencies or disasters. During the power outage AEC worked with its Arizona Cooperatives, Southern California Edison and other electrical services who brought in 2 megawatt standby generators to furnish minimal power to residential water wells, public safety services and some refrigeration equipment during the ensuing wildfire crisis. The community also cooperated by observing the revolving power times while neighboring valley communities and Riverside County emergency services helped with needed water, food and supplies.

AEC, working with community leaders, averted an even greater crisis in the community during the unprecedented emergency.

What now?

Short said there will be some costs for the generators and fuel needed in the crisis and those costs have yet to be determined, but AEC members will be informed soon. Meanwhile, the power is back on, even better than before. AEC is continuing to keep up with the increasing demand at one of the lowest cost cooperative electrical systems in the nation, AEC officials report.

Tony Ault

This power pole and nearly 100 others along Highway 74 from Mountain Center bringing power to the San Jacinto mountain communities have been replaced by Southern California Edison and the Anza Electric Cooperative since the devastating Cranston Fire in July .


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