Tucson Electric Power Co. is spending millions of dollars on local system improvements, including new communications lines to better handle outages and a feeder line to support a new solar energy battery storage system.

TEP says it has spent more than $1.3 billion in the past five years on upgrades to its transmission and distribution system, new energy programs and other improvements to boost grid reliability.

Crews are currently installing new fiber-optic cables on the city’s north side to allow system supervisors to more quickly and reliably restore service during power outages by remotely operating equipment.

The $680,000 project includes new communications equipment between the La Cañada substation, at North La Cañada and West Hardy Roads, and the Rillito Substation, near North Oracle and West River roads.

Other recent, ongoing or planned TEP system improvement projects:

  • TEP recently completed construction of a 2-mile feeder line that connects the Vail Substation near Interstate 10 and South Rita Road to the new 10-megawatt battery storage facility and accompanying 2-MW solar array at the UA Tech Park. The storage system is expected to be completed in the spring, when the $1.2 million line project will connect the storage system to the local electric grid.
  • Work is nearing completion on a nearly $2.5 million project to accommodate the realignment of Hughes Access Road, near Raytheon Missile Systems’ plant at Tucson International Airport. Workers installed nearly 80 new power poles last year to relocate an existing 46-kilovolt line along a 4-mile stretch of the new Aerospace Parkway. This month, crews completed the removal of about 50 poles and other obsolete equipment along the old route, TEP said.
  • A $1.4 million project this year will replace segments of aging, underground power cables that deliver electric service to homes and businesses. Crews recently finished replacing a half-mile span near the Snyder Substation, at North Kolb and East Snyder roads.
  • Additional underground cable replacements are planned near South Campbell Avenue and East Irvington Road and in midtown near El Con Mall, TEP said.
  • Later this year, TEP plans to relocate about 30 power poles and more than 6,000 feet of overhead power lines near Interstate 10 and West Ina Road, to accommodate the ongoing reconstruction of that interchange. Crews also will connect overhead power lines to underground equipment, in a $1.2 million project that will continue through the end of the year.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter: @dwichner