Cold and Snow Present Challenges

La Plata Electric crews work to restore power to members in the Durango area during a recent snowstorm. Photo courtesy LPEA.

When a cold snap hit Colorado at the end of 2022, heavy snows snapped tree limbs, causing them to fall onto power lines. Cold and snow present challenges and are common causes of power outages, which many Coloradans experienced as we rang in the new year. While many spent the holidays in the comfort of their homes, electric co-op line crews hit the field and began restoration efforts.

Colorado’s electric co-ops are committed to keeping the lights on, which means crews go out to fix damaged power lines even in the harshest conditions.

The safety of line crews is the number one priority for co-op operations and restoration is a close second. When operations managers determine that crews can safely head out to begin to troubleshoot and repair outages, linemen head out — at all hours of the day and night.

Sometimes outages require de-energizing power lines, which has the potential to delay restoration and may also cause other temporary outages. La Plata Electric Association in Durango aptly described its restoration work in early January as playing “Whack-a-Mole,” because as one section of line was restored, other outages popped up. But crews persisted until all members were restored.

As Poudre Valley REA experienced in January, sometimes it’s a transmission line that goes down and takes out power. Crews from the Fort Collins-based electric co-op were able to reroute and restore to members while Western Area Power Administration and Tri-State G&T worked on transmission line repairs.

Cold and snow present challenges such as outages, so it’s a smart idea to plan and prepare by keeping up with weather forecasts. Now is the time to prepare an emergency kit with outage essentials, such as flashlights, extra batteries, water bottles and a nonperishable food supply. If you rely on electric life support equipment, make a plan for power outages. If you have special medical equipment at home, such as a respirator, CPAP machine or an insulin pump, consider purchasing a backup generator and have contingency plans in place.

Power outages are unavoidable for any utility, especially this time of year. Despite the unpredictable challenges winter weather can cause, dedicated co-op crews and dispatch staff work until power is fully restored to their members. Visit your co-op’s website for more preparedness tips and keep current with outages and restoration on your co-op’s social media channels.