San Luis Valley-wide power outage due to transmission line failure on Poncha Pass

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Blanca Peak, 14,351 feet, seen from the San Luis Valley on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Update: Friday, May 10, 2024, 2:00 p.m.

Most rural customers of the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative should have their power back. Transmission repairs are expected to last through the weekend. The utility company says a transmission line operated by Xcel and another operated by Tri-State and Western Area Power Administration were having trouble. The Xcel line remains out of service.

Original post:

Residents of the San Luis Valley are without power Friday morning after a transmission line on the top of Poncha Pass failed. As of 9:30 a.m., crews from Tri-State Electric were en route to the pass to assess the cause and a possible fix. Tri-State is a Westminster-based generation and transmission company that serves a large portion of the mountain west.

The Costilla County Office of Emergency Management, as well as the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, anticipate power will return around 11:00 a.m. or early afternoon.

"Tri-State Electric has an open line on the top of Poncha Pass, which feeds power into the San Luis Valley. One of those lines is open," said Costilla County Emergency Manager Lucas Casias. "Basically that means there's a fault in the line somewhere across the line. We don't know where currently."

Casias, who said his power is also out, did not have an estimate of the number of customers affected, but did call it a valley-wide outage. The offices at the San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative are closed, but according to a map on the company's website, more than 14 percent of the company's customer base is affected.

Casias said San Isabel Electric also has an outage, which is affecting people in Huerfano and Costilla counties. A map on the San Isabel Electric site shows outages with that company mostly northwest of Trinidad.

"We've had power outages in the past in our area," Casias said. "But a valley wide power outage, no. This is something new that we're experiencing right now…at least that I'm aware of."

Casias recommended people to stay informed through social media and encouraged anyone who may need power for oxygen tanks, for example, to fire up their generators or use portable tanks.