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Power outage in Purgatory metro area affects 1,400 homes

Ski area lifts were shut down for several hours.
A power outage affected 1,400 homes in the Purgatory Metro District on Friday, including Purgatory Resort. (Courtesy of Audrey Royem)

Residents in the North Valley in the Purgatory Metro District had even chillier mornings than usual Friday, as the entire Purgatory substation went down around 7 a.m.

Also affected was Purgatory Resort, which was not able to run its ski lifts during the power outage.

“Crews were up there by 7:20 a.m.,” said LPEA spokeswoman Hillary Knox. “Substations are tricky when there’s an outage that originates on the line. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out what it is if there’s a tree in the line or something visual that you can see. If there is nothing visual, we can just patrol the line. If it’s clear, we can we can then reclose and turn the power back on.”

Today’s power outage was not something as simple as a tree on the line, however, and many resident did not have their power restored for several hours.

“When the origination of an outage is in the substation, it's really tricky because there are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of things that it could be,” said Knox. “It’s also incredibly dangerous because of the amount of current that’s running through substations. It becomes a lot slower and a lot more tedious, and it just takes a lot more time to restore.”

Crews eventually found the problem, which was one of the transformers in the substation, Knox said, and residents in each area of the district slowly got their power back.

“As of 2 p.m., everybody’s power was restored,” said Knox.

Purgatory ski lifts are also running again, though there were complaints about the lack of communication to skiers and patrons.

“No communication to pass holders,” said Audrey Royem in an email to The Durango Herald. “Did they forget to pay the bill? Power outage?”

Purgatory lost power to the entire resort, including all of the businesses, and was forced to use backup generators.

“Even the backup generators died,” said Purgatory retail and sales associate, Maggie Hendricks. “A lot of cold people today, but most everyone was chill about the outage.”

Power was eventually restored at the ski resort by 1:40 p.m.


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