Heat Wave Prompts Co-ops to Conserve

For Immediate Release


Geoff Oldfather, (520) 586-5465, C: (520) 444-3473, goldfather@azgt.coop

J.D. Wallace, (520) 586-5157, C: (520) 235-4203, jdwallace@azgt.coop


BENSON –As record-breaking heat sent the mercury soaring across the western United States starting the weekend of August 15, Arizona G&T Cooperatives (AzGT) personnel moved quickly to protect electric service.  With help from AzGT’s six Member distribution cooperatives and other entities, they succeeded.

“We were discussing the high likelihood that by Tuesday and Wednesday, certain power schedules would be curtailed out of the California Independent Systems Operator energy market,” said Shane Sanders, executive director of system operations at AzGT.

AzGT’s first step was to ask Member co-ops and other AzGT customers to conserve energy. From Monday through Wednesday, AzGT Members and customers began sending out conservation requests, many via social media, asking consumers to set thermostats up a few degrees and not to use appliances between the peak hours of 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. The messaging paid off, as Members and customers dropped power demand and remained within the available supply.

AzGT also cancelled all work on its power lines beyond 1 p.m. each day, and communicated closely with power suppliers and neighboring utilities.

AzGT’s power station had every available resource online. “We were running at full capacity with every unit,” said Mike Nelson, executive director of power production at AzGT’s Apache Generating Station. “We’ve worked hard at preventive maintenance, and it pays off.”

Just as critical was the effort to find any available energy on the market. Jon Martell, AzGT executive director of energy services, works closely with ACES, which helps cooperatives obtain energy on the market. “We started looking for alternate sources of power,” Martell said. ACES utilized sources that are less typical for AzGT, such as those in the Pacific Northwest.

“With the high temperatures we’ve been experiencing, we’re only a wildfire or the loss of a generator in California away from being back in this situation,” said Chris Jimenez, portfolio director at ACES’ West Regional Trading Center, located at AzGT’s Benson campus.

The efforts by all involved kept the August heat wave from becoming an electric crisis. But if it happens again, everyone at AzGT and ACES stands ready.



Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) www.azgt.coop is one of 62 generation and transmission (G&T) electric cooperatives in the nation. AEPCO owns and operates the Apache Generating Station (Apache) near Cochise, Arizona, east of Benson. Apache provides power to more than 161,000 electric meters and 420,000 people in Arizona, California and New Mexico through six Class A Member distribution cooperatives. The plant has a combined gross generating capacity of 605 megawatts.

AEPCO also operates and maintains more than 841 miles of electric power transmission line including line owner in part with other utilities, and 33 substations in a network that reaches out from Apache and across Arizona to the northwestern corner of the state. The system includes more than 30 telecommunications towers used for phone and data relay services by AEPCO’s Member cooperatives and customers. From this network, our Member distribution electric cooperatives take the power and distribute it to their member-consumers at the end of the line.


Sierra Southwest Cooperative Services, the other cooperative under the AzGT banner, serves the renewable-energy needs of AzGT Member cooperatives and customers by providing a mechanism for maximizing solar and other renewable tax credits through cooperative lenders.