Magpie suspected in morning power outage |

Magpie suspected in morning power outage

About 6,400 YVEA customers lost power for about 45 minutes Wednesday

Kristi Mohrbacher

— A YVEA spokesman said a bird likely caused a power outage that lasted for less than an hour in the mountain area Wednesday.

Jim Chappell of the Yampa Valley Electric Association said a magpie at the Mount Werner substation had a wingspan just long enough to cause the outage, which impacted about 6,400 customers just after 8 a.m.

On May 25, a wayward animal thought to be a raccoon climbed up to live wires at the substation, onto a piece of equipment with 12,000 volts running through it. The animal caused two mineral-oil fires that lit up the night sky in Steamboat Springs and knocked out power for up to 15,000 customers for about an hour on a Sunday night.

At least two large pieces of the substation were damaged in that incident. Repairs were expected to total more than $1 million.

Insurance would cover the bulk of the repairs and customers would not see a change in their rates, Chappell said later that week.

Wednesday, Chapell said it’s very difficult and cost-prohibitive to completely enclose a substation and prevent animals from getting in. He doesn’t know of any substations in the state that have done it, “but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any,” Chapell said.