Critter fritter knocks out lights

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – An unlucky raccoon caused a power outage in Glenwood Springs Saturday night, shutting down power throughout Glenwood Springs for two hours and 45 minutes.

John Hines, superintendent of the Glenwood Springs Electric Department and Community Broadband Network, said a raccoon crawled into the electric department’s 69,000-volt main feeder lines about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I don’t think he felt a thing,” said Hines of the unfortunate ‘coon, who “blew fuses and the whole substation out. It was a fluke and an accident.”

Hines said the affected station is behind the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. Transmission lines connect Glenwood’s station to Denver via the Shoshone power plant in Glenwood Canyon.

On-call crews reported to the station, though the power was actually thrown back on by radio through Public Service’s Denver office.

“With 69,000 volts, they have to do it by radio,” Hines said. “It makes a four-foot-long arc when it’s thrown back on.”

Hines said this is the second time in 10 years that he knows of that wildlife has caused an outage like Saturday night’s. He said sometimes animals will crawl onto lower-voltage lines, but an outage of this magnitude caused by a raccoon or other creature is fairly rare.

Hines also said that Saturday night, crews didn’t yet know what had triggered the outage.

“We discovered the raccoon – or at least remnants of him -today when we were inspecting the site,” Hines said.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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