Xcel Energy extends power outage through Monday for Boulder County customers

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By journalsofus.com

Power lines run west from the Xcel Energy Valmont Power Plant. (Daily Camera File Photo)

Many Boulder County Xcel Energy customers could experience power outages throughout Monday and beyond as crews work to safely restore power lines, a spokesperson for the utility company said Sunday.

As of 3:44 p.m. Sunday, 30,950 customers in Boulder County were without power, according to Andrew Holder, director of community relations for Xcel Energy. Getting power back sometime Monday is a “moving target” as crews must wait for the winds to die down, Holder said. About 250 Xcel workers are scheduled to work Sunday and Monday to restore power, he said.

Xcel Energy shut down more than 600 miles of power lines around 3 p.m. Saturday as forecasters predicted strong winds along the Front Range, according to information on the company’s website. Crews will need to visually inspect power lines to ensure safety before restoring power, according to a tweet from Xcel on Sunday morning.

The weekend blackouts were the first time Xcel Energy shut off power in Colorado for public safety reasons, Holder said. He said Xcel will continue to partner with municipalities and emergency managers to ensure public safety is a priority and to further develop protocol for cases of high winds or high wildfire risks.

Xcel Energy’s interactive map on its website shows where the power was out Sunday afternoon. You can view the map at: https://www.outagemap-xcelenergy.com/outagemap (Map courtesy of Xcel Energy)

Xcel cut power to about 55,000 customers in Boulder, Gilpin, Larimer, Douglas, Broomfield and Jefferson counties around 3 p.m. Saturday. About 100,000 additional customers were without power due to high winds, the company said.

Wind gusts of up to 97 mph were reported overnight Saturday, according to a social media post from the weather service BoulderCAST. The National Weather Service reported that winds are expected to slowly decrease throughout Sunday afternoon.

Before the power outage, Xcel Energy said it would consider temporarily cutting power lines due to high fire danger in certain areas of Boulder, Gilpin and Jefferson counties. On Saturday afternoon, traffic lights were out at several key intersections on Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder and at some intersections along the Diagonal Highway between Boulder and Longmont due to extremely strong winds blowing through the area.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning signifying high fire danger from noon Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday, as well as a high wind warning in effect through noon Sunday for the Boulder County area.

“Turning off power to customers is not something we take lightly, but is intended to decrease the risk of wildfires,” Xcel wrote in a statement. “If any proactive de-energization is necessary, we will attempt to contact affected customers directly.”

On Sunday afternoon, several research buildings on the University of Colorado’s Boulder East Campus were without power, according to Nicole Mueksch, director of issues management at the University of Colorado Boulder. The research buildings had limited backup power sources or backup generators, she said. CU’s Holland Mountain Research Station and the Atenas North graduate housing building, which is just north of the main campus at 1855 Atenas St., also lost power.

At the same time, Intermountain Health Good Samaritan Hospital, 200 Exampla Circle in Lafayette, reported it was at full power. A message to Boulder Community Hospital – Foothills Hospital at 4747 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder was not immediately returned.

The Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, a power cooperative serving parts of Longmont and Boulder County, also reported widespread outages due to the wind storm, but restored power to customers throughout the day Sunday . Fewer than 6,000 customers were without power as of Sunday afternoon, according to Sam Taggart, director of strategic communications for PVREA.

Most Longmont Power customers were able to keep their lights on during the wind storm. About 2,750 customers were outed Saturday, but power was restored, according to Longmont Power spokesman Scott Rochat. All Longmont Power customers had power Sunday with a few exceptions, Rochat said.

In Louisville, City Manager Jeff Durbin said there are many lessons to be learned from the planned outages, while emphasizing that the outages were a decision by Xcel Energy. He noted that it is common in California for customers to experience proactive power outages to reduce wildfire risks.

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