Mud season power outage hits Silverthorne and Dillon
Mud season strikes again.
On Wednesday evening, a power surge at the Xcel Energy Ptarmigan substation in northern Silverthorne left nearly 2,800 customers without power for 1 hour and 35 minutes.
The surge, known as an electrical arc, likely was caused by wet, heavy snow that began rolling through the county early in the evening, according to officials with Xcel.
By roughly 8 p.m., the storm tripped a single transformer at the substation, knocking out power across the Silverthorne town core and into portions of north Dillon. An Xcel troubleshooting team pinpointed the tripped transformer and restored power during a brief lull in the storm.
“This wasn’t a situation where we had to make repairs,” Xcel spokesman Gabriel Romero said. “To make it simple, we essentially flipped a breaker. The system has built-in failsafes, just as you do in your house, and when the conditions are right those will kick in.”
In typical mud-season fashion, weird and unpredictable weather was the culprit. The substation, a $1.2 million project completed in 2014, is exposed to the elements throughout the year, and when paired with three additional substations in Summit County it is meant to ward off the threat of lengthy power outages. But Colorado weather plays by its own rules, and fast-moving storms have caused similar arc surges at other Xcel stations in the past.
“Sometimes mag chloride can gather on these poles, on the transformers, and when it does it can cause an arc,” Romero said. “It isn’t incredibly common, but when we’ve had dry weather followed by rain or other precipitation it can happen.”
While the outage was relatively short, it affected dozens of businesses and residences in a bustling portion of the county. The booths and bars were black at Old Chicago and The Bakers’ Brewery, along with hotel rooms at the nearby Days Inn, Quality Inn and Suites, and La Quinta Inn and Suites. The outage also affected businesses along Blue River Parkway, as well as town-owned properties like the Silverthorne Recreation Center.
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