Raccoon causes electricity problems in Steamboat

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— A raccoon came in contact with a regulator Tuesday evening at the electricity substation in the Brooklyn neighborhood near downtown Steamboat Springs, causing issues that eventually led to a power outage.

The initial call about the problem came at about 8:51 p.m. Tuesday, said Bill Caynor, operations manager for Yampa Valley Electric Association. At that point, some customers experienced brownouts and flickering. A crew member was on site within 15 minutes, he said.

YVEA officials think the raccoon came in contact with part of a conductor.

The issues affected Hilltop Parkway, Old Town, downtown Steamboat, Fish Creek Falls and the Fairview neighborhood near 13th Street, Caynor said. YVEA then planned an outage for about 15 minutes, starting at 9:40 p.m., he said. He said the incident affected 2,143 consumers.

Crews isolated the equipment and linked customers to the Mount Werner substation. YVEA tested the Brooklyn system Wednesday to make sure there were no problems before starting it up again, Caynor said. Everything checked out fine, he said.

The equipment was back in operation at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, and customers were switched back to their normal substation between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Caynor said YVEA has worked to keep raccoons and other animals away from substations.

“Still, they’re finding a way to get in there, so we’re going to keep working at it,” he said.

A raccoon caused an outage in April 2009 at a Brooklyn station, and raccoons caused two outages in May 2008. A bird caused an outage in June 2008. Animal-caused blackouts resulted in more than $1 million in damages to the Mount Werner substation in May and June 2008.

The raccoon did not survive the incident Tuesday, Caynor said.

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