Operational and Situational Awareness helps us make critical decisions more quickly and effectively. These include specific protocols for periods of high wildfire risk, such as “Red Flag Warning” days in high-wind conditions. We also monitor the National Fire Danger Ratings to understand local threat conditions and appropriate actions to deal with them. We use that information to operate our system to reduce wildfire risk and effectively respond to fire events.

We are constantly investing in our electric infrastructure and exploring ways to improve reliability, safety and affordability. In this evolving effort, new technology plays a key role in our new wildfire standards. These include devices that control the flow of electricity: relays, reclosers, fuses, cutouts and arrestors.

Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings

The Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS) program is one of the tools we use to operate our system more conservatively in areas of high risk of wildfires. In this program, we enable more sensitive settings on powerline protective equipment when wildfire risk is elevated.

How it works: Our distribution system is monitored 24/7 by both technology and people. In targeted areas, we have added special sensing equipment that interrupts the flow of energy to a line segment when it detects a significant issue, such as a tree branch contacting a powerline or lines galloping during high winds.

On standard settings, reclosers will test the line to see if the fault is still present – for example, a branch touches a wire and then falls to the ground. In those cases, the recloser resets the circuit breaker to start electricity flowing again. Momentary outages – when your power goes off for a few seconds – are a sign that the system is working the way it is supposed to.

With enhanced safety settings, the line stays de-energized until crews can patrol the area to ensure it’s safe to restore service. This approach helps keep our communities safe, but although we do our best to minimize impacts, some customers may experience more frequent or longer outages.

Read the Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings information sheet for more details and answers to frequently asked questions.

As of Summer 2022, the program is in place in select areas in and around the Colorado communities of:

  • Alma
  • Blue River
  • Boulder
  • Breckenridge
  • Evergreen
  • Fairplay
  • Golden
  • Jamestown
  • Kittredge
  • Longmont
  • Palisade

Risk Model Enhancements

We’ve developed a Wildfire Risk Model to analyze our risk, inform the Wildfire Mitigation Plan, define our Wildfire Risk Zones and estimate the potential impact of wildfire within our service territory. As more data and information becomes available, the model will be updated to reflect our current understanding.

Work Completed and Planned

Identified need for additional reclosers

Initiated risk modeling
Investigate additional Transmission Assessments including conductor analysis, climbing and drones

Enhanced risk and wildfire spread modeling
Repaired or replaced nearly 300 instances of transmission damage to our system

Upgraded fuses and lightning arrestors
Initiated wire replacements initiatives

Replace fuses with devices that improve safety
Performed a distribution feeder protection study

Initiated substation relay upgrades

Performed a wind strength analysis of transmission and distribution structures
Enhance system protection using Advanced Distribution Management System’s operational capabilities

Implement “Wildfire Mode” on recloser equipment in Wildfire Risk Zones to prevent potential incidents

Develop and consider alternative operating protocols in high-risk areas to reduce wildfire risk under certain conditions

Improve response protocols and fire-safe work practices

Read more in our Annual Reports to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.