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APS to shut off power in some rural Arizona areas when weather might cause wildfires

Arizona Public Service will start doing planned power shut offs in some rural areas during extreme weather. The utility is looking to prevent wildfires.

Areas around Payson, Prescott, Verde Valley and Coconino County could have these shut-offs. One triggering event would be extreme winds over 60 miles per hour that could cause trees and debris to hit power lines.

APS will use weather monitoring equipment on power poles. Its meteorologists will be able to predict if extreme weather will impact these fire-prone communities up to four days prior.

Wade Ward handles fire mitigation for the utility.

“Part of the process over a year and a half is looking at really what are the worst case scenarios for us. We realized that the potential for weather is possible anywhere at any time, but these more extreme events are a little bit more forecast-able," Wade said. 

Based on past events, APS says power would be back up within 20 hours of the shut-offs. 

APS uses other methods to prevent fires, such as clearing vegetation near power equipment. 

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Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.