Officials with Arizona Public Service Company are still investigating the cause of an electrical fire atop McMillan Mesa in late November that caused significant damage to a $3 million installation.
The fire started in a state-of-the-art solar energy storage system the utility was testing, not the substation itself, said a spokesperson with APS.
APS began testing in February a new 1.5 megawatt system that is the size of a shipping container and resembles a giant battery.
The system was part of a federally-backed pilot project to measure the ability to store energy to be used during peak demand for electricity.
The system is designed to generate the equivalent power output of 1,200 hybrid cars or 300,000 cellphone batteries.
"We plan to study a number of things, including how we can decrease equipment stress on high-demand days and how we can provide electricity from solar energy to our customers after sundown," says APS Director of Energy Innovation Barbara Lockwood in press release.
A spokesperson for APS said company officials are working closely with Electrovaya Inc., a lithium-ion battery manufacturing company, to determine the cause of the Nov. 26 fire.
The fire did not affect the nearby substation, as APS installed the equipment for the energy storage system away from the existing infrastructure.
Firefighters initially had let the blaze burn while they waited for an APS crew and then helped establish a path into the yard to allow utility workers to temporarily shut off power.
Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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