Ouray power outage due to underground line failure


By Caleb Stento
Saturday at approximately 2:00 a.m. a power outage occurred that affected about 60 accounts in disparate parts of the city of Ouray including businesses and private residences. The crew dispatched from San Miguel Power Association’s (SMPA) Ridgway office worked straight through the wee hours of the wintery morning and was able to restore power just before the noon hour on Saturday. According to Terry Daley, engineering and operations manager for SMPA, the cause was failure of an underground power line.

Daley explained that it took extra time to repair because of the line’s location. One of the first steps in restoring power is identifying the location of the problem. Logically, this task is made easier for crews when they can see the power line.
“Unfortunately, because with underground you can’t readily see where the problem is like with overhead, it tends to take a little longer time to find the problem, isolate it and provide an alternate feed through a different source,“ Daley said.
Daley went on to explain that SMPA tries to include a ‘loop feed’ or alternate power source when designing underground systems. Access to any underground power will usually require some type of excavation – further lengthening repair times. “Underground you typically have to excavate. So it takes a little bit more infrastructure to allow us to re-energize in a timely manner,” Daley said.