Explanation of recent power outage by Xcel Energy

by admin on December 6, 2013

Dear Town of Nederland,

I want you to know I am aware that nearly 1000 residents experienced an electric outage last night, ending early this morning. This followed a tough weekend of high winds. I was on the phone with a couple of our Nederland customers around midnight, hearing the frustration many of you are voicing about the number of recent interruptions to your electric service. I also spent some time with our dispatch operations folks to understand the specific problem last night and our response to it.

Basically, we had a device failure. An insulator, which holds the power line to the cross arm on the power pole, failed and allowed that line to touch the line above it and short out. That opened another device we call a “recloser,” which is programmed to turn the electricity off when a short like this occurs so that power just doesn’t keep flowing through the fault. And, while the system reacted the way it was supposed to from the safety standpoint, it nevertheless did fail you, our customers. Our crews were able to re-attach the wire, but as you know that work took several hours.

The bigger questions beyond this individual outage are being expressed by many of you today – does Xcel Energy care about Nederland? What is the company doing about its service to this area? When will we have power we can rely on? Your concerns are valid and understandable. Ironically, while we are ranked within the top quartile nationally for reliability, several factors have combined to lead to less-than-acceptable service to your community.

• We’ve had a much higher number of outages this year because of an unusual combination of reasons, including a historic flood (this caused outages during the flood, but also afterward as power lines and nearby trees succumbed to damage many days later), planned outages due to a large project to rebuild a major feeder line serving Nederland, other weather-related outages, including wind and snow, and a few accidents, caused by contractors as they were working on the lines.

We are currently rebuilding one of the main power lines that serve Nederland. This summer, we completed several thousand feet of the project, including replacing the wire that runs through town with much larger, stronger and higher-capacity wire. This work also includes replacing the poles and arms that hold the wire. We are working to complete another key section of this power line as it runs along the north side of Barker Reservoir by the end of the month. Our investment in upgrading this line, when complete, will dramatically improve reliability in Nederland. However, as stated above, the planned outages coupled with some missteps on this project caused you to be without power a number of times.

We are sincerely sorry for the unusual number of interruptions you’ve experienced. We understand the inconvenience this has been for many people. We take your concerns seriously and our company’s leadership is fully aware of the situation. In fact, we will be providing an update to your town’s leaders very soon about how we are working to improve reliability and will make sure that information gets to everyone in town. We intend to have excellent service in Nederland and to re-earn your trust.

Sincerely,

Craig Eicher
Xcel Energy | Responsible By Nature
Area Manager, Boulder Region
2655 N 63rd St Boulder, CO 80301
P: 303-245-2254 C: 303-827-4943 F: 303-245-2292
E: craig.l.eicher@xcelenergy.com

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