Durango Telegraph - A systemwide storm: Heavy snows hit nearly 20,000 electric customers
A systemwide storm: Heavy snows hit nearly 20,000 electric customers

Though Purgatory received more than 6 feet of snow in one week and Silverton Mountain boasted its highest single-storm snowfall total in the ski area’s six-year history, Old Man Winter also showed his nasty side last week. Ski areas weren’t the only ones breaking records, as nearly 20,000 La Plata Electric Association customers in La Plata and Archuleta counties went without power for extended periods beginning last Fri., Dec. 7.

Heavy, wet snow pulled down electric

lines or forced power poles to the ground during a nearly 54-hour period. Over the course of several days, La Plata Electric crews responded to 62 different outages and repaired 75 problems. The most dramatic of them was a break in the 115-kilovolt Tri-State transmission line between Bayfield and Pagosa, which shut down power to all of Archuleta County.

“Our focus was driven to that outage, because we had to get the transmission line back in operation. We were forced to

pull crews off other outages,” said Steve Gregg, LPEA manager of operations. “As it turned out, at the same time we had nearly as many customers out of power in eastern La Plata County.”

The major outages in La Plata County included County Roads 502 and 228 (Pine River Ranches) and the area east of Bayfield including Bear Creek and Beaver Meadows. County Road 500 north of Vallecito and County Road 246 (Colvig Silver Camps) were also dark. Areas of

the Animas Valley were without power, and LPEA Dispatch reported calls coming in from the Rafter J area southwest of Durango as well.

“The storm had system-wide impact,” said Gregg. “The LPEA crews were stretched thin … It took time to get to some of the outages, but as soon as one outage was repaired, the crews moved on to the next to restore power as quickly as possible.”

– Will Sands

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