Restoring power in Colorado Springs: FOX21 talks to residents left in the dark

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UPDATE: As of Friday, 15% of Colorado Springs Utility customers are without power, that’s about 7,000 customers. Overnight, crews were able to restore power to 2,000 customers. CSU says its goal is to restore power to all by Sunday.

“This is probably upwards of one of the worst, if not the second-worst experience that we’ve had to triage and restore right now,” CSU GM of Energy Construction, Operations & Maintenance Charles Cassidy said.

Friday, crews will begin the work of restoring smaller outages. According to CSU, every internal resource available and a few external resources are mobilized. 24/7 operations are expected to continue until every customer is restored. 

“What makes this again challenging and very slow for us right now is when a crew shows up it’s not just simply replacing a transformer or putting up new wires or something like that, it’s first dealing with removing structures from our infrastructure, dealing with trees on lines or dealing with fences or all of the other debris that you see in the neighborhoods right now that’s what we have to first contend with before we can make repairs,” Cassidy said.

At the height of the storm, 40% of customers were without power. CSU said the delay of restoration is due to the number of outages that continued to grow as they worked on Wednesday and Thursday. The delay in restoring power is because of debris and trees on infrastructure getting in the way of the real work they need to do to bring services back.

“500 potential issues like this that we are going to have to wade through to get those individual customers restored at the end of the day,” Cassidy explained.

CSU has called in mutual aid from the City of Fountain and contractors from Denver.

ORIGINAL STORY: COLORADO SPRINGS —Some Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) customers may be without power until the early weekend, according to the utility company’s latest update.

Despite earlier projections that all customers would be restored by Friday, Dec. 17, CSU has now pushed that restoration date back to Saturday, Dec. 18.

We were optimistic earlier today, but the damage around the city is extensive. We now anticipate that it will be at least Saturday before all customers are restored.

colorado springs utilities
7:16 p.m. thursday, Dec 16, 2021

The later restoration date comes as crews battle debris and downed trees that stand in the way of equipment. CSU’s outage map shows clusters of outages and several hazards. Most hazards include downed wires and lines as well as trees in lines.

CSU’S outage map as of 4:18 a.m. Friday morning

However, CSU’s map may not reflect the complete picture. FOX21 has received reports of people who are without power, but their area is not showing up on the map. CSU addressed the issue Thursday evening by saying “If you are out of power and you don’t see it on the map, please report it on the map or call us 719-448-4800.”

When it comes to what areas will be fixed first, CSU prioritizes based on two principals:

  1. Impacts to critical infrastructure and public safety.
  2. Total number of customers impacted. For example, if damage is identified that affects 2,000 customers, CSU will fix that before it makes repairs to another area impacting 20 customers.

According to CSU, every resource has been mobilized as crews continue 24/7 operations until everyone is restored. Thursday, CSU Chief Operations Officer Travas Deal told media outlets that every available crew was in the field, each working 16-hour shifts.

As of 6:15 p.m. Thursday, CSU said approximately 7,000 people remained powerless.

In the meantime, CSU is urging residents who are without power to exercise caution when it comes to repairs, downed lines, generators, etc.

Thursday afternoon, CSU tweeted a safety message meant to inform residents about issues ranging from downed lines to checking masts to generator safety.

While power is expected to be restored by Saturday, cleanup efforts are expected to continue for several weeks, perhaps several months.

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