Raccoon causes Steamboat power outage

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— A power outage affected more than 2,000 Yampa Valley Electric Association customers in Steamboat Springs early Thursday morning after a raccoon made contact with a live conductor.

The incident occurred at about midnight when a raccoon climbed a voltage regulator at YVEA's Brooklyn 2 substation near Howelsen Ice Arena. According to a YVEA news release, the animal made contact with a live conductor, "causing the high voltage fuses to interrupt power flow."

Affected areas included areas of downtown Steamboat Springs, Fairway Meadows, Sundance, the Sanctuary and Clubhouse Drive. Power was restored at about 1:30 a.m.

YVEA crews are expected to inspect the voltage regulator and substation transformer today for faults. One bushing is damaged and will need to be replaced, according to YVEA. The repair process could take between two and three weeks as crews wait to receive the part.

Thursday's incident is the latest in a string of animal-caused power outages in and around Steamboat Springs. YVEA officials said they have installed numerous animal barriers at their substations, but that they will meet with wildlife officials to discuss other prevention measures.

YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell couldn't help but have a little fun with the incident. Chappell ended the YVEA news release with the following sentence: "The Association will again be meeting with wildlife officials to determine the appropriate trapping and relocation methods for raccoons whom have perfected their climbing skills and cannot read 'Danger High Voltage' signs."

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