Power outage was night-long for some residents | PostIndependent.com

Power outage was night-long for some residents

Carrie ClickPost Independent Staff

The power outage that hit approximately 6,000 customers Monday night was likely due to an equipment failure in Xcel’s electrical substation located near the Garfield County Airport, said spokesmen from both Xcel Energy and Holy Cross Energy.Power went out at 6:22 p.m. in Rifle and Silt. The outage also affected electric customers on Silt Mesa; south of Silt, including Dry Hollow, Divide Creek and Garfield Creek; and in portions of Parachute and De Beque. About 1,000 Holy Cross customers had their power restored by 10:30 p.m. when technicians supplemented electricity from another Holy Cross substation.”We were able to bring energy from our substation in Battlement Mesa to those customers,” said Holy Cross spokesman Bob Gardner. Xcel customers had a longer wait. About half of Xcel’s customers got power back by 1 a.m. By 7 a.m. the last customers in the affected area had their power restored. The Rifle substation facility is enclosed in chain link fencing and is owned by Xcel, formerly Public Service Co. of Colorado. Xcel was responsible for diagnosing and repairing the malfunction. Holy Cross buys electricity from Xcel for about 1,000 of the 6,000 customers who lost power. Xcel spokesman Steve Roalstad said the substation has four feeders that take high-voltage electricity and transform it into lower-voltage electricity. That power is sent to distributors that convert the electricity once again, ultimately into the 120 to 240 volts used in homes and businesses. “What happened Monday night was that a piece of equipment in one of the feeders shut down,” he said. “This normally happens when a tree limb, for example, falls onto one of our lines. In this case, though, the feeder did not reclose, which means the flow of electricity wouldn’t come back on. That caused the other three feeders to shut down.”Roalstad explained that the reclosing mechanism prevents substation fires from occurring.”The feeders protect themselves from burning up the substation’s large transformer,” he said, which can cost in the six figures to replace. Once technicians realized power was down, they went about diagnosing the problem.”It’s not a Chinese fire drill,” said Roalsted. “We had about nine highly trained technicians working on the outage. They look at it very much like a surgeon diagnoses an ailment. They start at one end and work to the other end to correct it.” Roalsted said that even though the outage extended into the morning, customers in the affected area handled the lack of power without much trouble.”A lot of folks who live in rural areas are prepared for outages like this,” he said. “Generally, folks are used to extreme weather and know how to deal with adverse situations.” Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext 518cclick@postindependent.comin the darkTo prepare for a power outage:-Make sure you have fully operational flashlights, candles and lighters handy. -Keep a corded phone at home – or be sure cell phones are properly charged. Cordless phones run partially on electricity, which makes them inoperable in an electrical outage. -Have a battery-operated radio on hand to receive news and information.-If you have a backup generator, keep it in working order. -In the case of very cold weather, or if you or someone you know relies on health-related electrical power, contact your local fire and/or police departments for shelter information. Otherwise, bundle up, get the woodstove going and stay put. -If you smell the odor of rotten eggs, leave your home immediately and call your local fire department. That’s mercaptain, an odor added to natural gas to help people detect a gas leak. -Call Xcel’s call shop at 800-895-1999. This helps Xcel to track the outage’s territory.


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