Multiple equipment failures cause lengthy power outage at Copper Mountain

July 27, 2013

COPPER MOUNTAIN — Multiple power outages at Copper Mountain the past week were caused by faulty equipment in a substation feeding the resort.

Xcel Energy  crews continued working Friday to correct the problems, which left some resort guests without power at their vacation condos for more than 12 hours. Scores of units, along with some commercial operations and hundreds of resort guests were affected by the outages.

Xcel Energy believes the outages appear to be related to multiple equipment failures in the field and at the substation in Frisco, which serves the resort. As part of its investigation, Xcel will look at the overall system and power demand to try and prevent future outages, and to determine whether the power infrastructure serving Copper Mountain is adequate.

The most recent outages at Copper were July 11 and July 24.

"We have traced the exact cause of the outages to several failed splices – equipment used to joint segments of underground cable together – which may have also experienced abnormal voltage due to a failure of equipment that regulates voltage at the substation," said Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz.

"But, these splices are being subject to further analysis in effort to determine the mode of failure. This does not appear to be a systematic issue, and we will continue to assess our equipment in the area in effort to mitigate future outages," Stutz said.

The July 11 outage was traced to a failed section of cable at Copper Mountain Village, near 178 Copper Road. Permanent repairs were made the week of July 22, but on July 24, two additional failures occurred on this cable at different locations.

In all, Xcel has found three failures at cable splices, and the prevailing theory is that voltage regulators at the Frisco substation are to blame. But the company isn't ruling out out other causes, including moisture and shifting ground, both of which can cause splice failure.

Some of the failed equipment will be brought to an electrical engineering facility for thorough analysis, Stutz said. Fixing the voltage regulators at the substation and the splices should prevent similar problems in the future.

 "We're not done with this, we still have to do some investigation," he concluded. "Copper Mountain is currently working with Xcel Energy ... investigating the cause of yesterday's power outage. Copper Mountain appreciates our guests' patience and understanding during this interruption," said resort VP Jesse True.


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