Xcel shuts power off for 55,000 customers due to high wind, fire danger in Colorado

Lauren Penington, The Denver Post on

Published in Weather News

DENVER — Xcel shut off power to 55,000 Colorado customers across six counties Saturday for a controlled outage planned to last more than 24 hours, citing the dangerous wind conditions and wildfire risks this weekend.

Some of the energy company’s customers in Boulder, Gilpin, Larimer, Douglas, Broomfield and Jefferson counties will see planned outages from 3 p.m. Saturday through at least noon Sunday, according to an Xcel news release.

“We are expecting potentially record-setting winds of up to 100 mph,” Xcel Energy President Robert Kenney said in a news conference Saturday afternoon. “Those are extraordinary winds. We’re doing this as a measure to protect the public and protect public safety.”

If a wind-blown branch or flying debris fell into a power line and knocked it to dry ground, an energized line could start a fire, Kenney said.

Xcel teams started calling people in all six counties who have the potential to be affected by the planned outages Friday night, Kenney said. The bulk of people impacted are going to be in Boulder County.

The National Weather Service’s High Wind Warning lifts at noon Sunday, after which crews will need to physically inspect the power lines before turning them back on, Kenney said.

“We have 40+ crews that are being pre-staged so they can start immediately patrolling the power lines … restoration will start sometime after that,” Kenney said.

Xcel provides electricity and natural gas to 1.6 million customers across Colorado, including cities and towns.

Traffic lights may be out as well, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on X. Treat out lights like a four-way stop.


“Customers who use medical equipment that relies on electrical service should take steps to prepare for extended outages,” Xcel’s release stated. “Temporarily shutting power off is intended to prevent our electric system from becoming the source of a wildfire ignition.”

Xcel is facing hundreds of lawsuits after investigators concluded one of the company’s powerlines helped spark the wind-driven Marshall fire in Boulder County in 2021; the utility has disputed that conclusion.

Even with the planned outages, the high winds may damage electric equipment and cause additional outages of their own, Xcel said. Outages caused by these winds may be more frequent and longer lasting than normal.

Xcel customers can check current outages online.

The utility is working to develop a more specific map of where the planned outages are occurring, Kenney said.

Oxygen-dependent people should be prepared with enough spare bottles to last through Sunday, or consider staying with family, friends or in a hotel outside of the planned outage area, South Metro Fire Rescue warned online.

First responder agencies are only equipped to provide oxygen for medical emergencies and regular providers should be contacted for non-emergent needs, the fire agency said.

Do not use a gas stove to heat your home or an outdoor stove indoors for heating or cooking, and keep any generators outside in a well-ventilated area away from windows, South Metro Fire Rescue said.

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