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Wildfire Power Shut-Offs

PUC Response on April 2024 Power Outages

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Over the weekend of April 6-7, Colorado experienced a weather event that brought wind gusts in excess of 100 mph in some areas of the state and sustained high winds throughout the weekend. The outages and weather impacts were concentrated in the northern front range. Over 150,000 people across 9 counties were without power statewide during the event. 55,000 of these were the result of an intentional, precautionary outage conducted by Xcel to reduce the possibility of wildfire. The remaining outages were either due to damage to lines or use of other preventative measures. These measures are used in other western states including California and Oregon.
 

While power outages are a frequent impact of Colorado weather events, the April storm was the first time that Xcel pro-actively deployed preventative safety outages. In addition, a significant portion of the distribution system that would normally be set to attempt to automatically re-energize was not re-powered until visual inspection by utility crews. This precautionary measure meant a longer down period than usual as field crews had to manually inspect lines that had been de-energized. 
 

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is investigating ways that the implementation of public safety power shut offs can be improved. To date, the PUC has: 

  • Opened opportunity for impacted Coloradans to provide their experience with outages using this feedback form.
  • Opened a formal proceeding (24M-0173E) to investigate Xcel Energy’s actions over the April 6-7, 2024 time period.
  • Held a public comment meeting on April 17, 2024. The recording can be accessed here.
  • Held an investigative Commissioner Information Meeting on May 6, 2024 to interview Xcel about actions before, during, and after the weather event – particularly notice, communication, and coordination issues - and to hear from significantly impacted stakeholders. The recording can be accessed here.
  • Issued a decision on May 15, 2024 requesting that Xcel respond to a series of issues and questions about the outage. Xcel has requested until July 12, 2024 to respond.

UPDATE: On June 27, 2024 Xcel submitted its 2024 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. The plan will be fully litigated before the Commission, including intervention by parties, hearings, testimony, and decision. Information related to this proceeding can be found by putting 24A-0296E into the Proceeding Number search bar on the “E-Filings” site.


Interested in providing input or staying informed? Here are some options:

  • Share your input and personal experience using this feedback form.
  • Access all presentations, decisions, and information related to this investigation on the Commission’s “E-Filings” site by putting 24M-0173E into the Proceeding Number search bar.
  • Participate in public hearings and watch proceedings related to Xcel’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan. Information related to this proceeding can be found by putting 24A-0296E into the Proceeding Number search bar. Public comment hearings will also be posted on the Commission’s public calendar.