The Western Area Power Administration will begin the first portion of a three-phase project on Feb. 27 to help mitigate future transmission power outages in Estes Park, Colorado, and the surrounding area, Platte River Power Authority reported on Feb. 6.
The project responds to the transmission power outage on Oct. 29, 2023, when inclement weather caused the new WAPA transmission lines to gallop.
Contractors hired by WAPA will install air flow spoilers, devices that attach directly to power lines that help to reduce swaying of the lines, also called galloping. These spoilers will be installed on the 16-mile double-circuit transmission lines that deliver electricity to the Town of Estes Park.
Line galloping typically occurs when ice builds up on the lines. Wind pushes against this increased surface area; the lines begin to sway and jump, or “gallop.” If one span (or line) contacts another or something nearby, safeguard mechanisms called relays disconnect the lines to protect them from damage, which cuts off power.
The event prompted Estes Park Power and Communications, WAPA and Platte River Power Authority, the wholesale electricity generation and transmission provider for Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, to quickly implement a plan to enhance the resiliency of the transmission lines.
Many of Platte River's transmission lines have air flow spoilers to mitigate transmission power outages from line galloping.
Air flow spoilers are rigid plastic thermal coils that wrap around sections, or spans, of transmission lines and help reduce galloping.
The installation will occur on one line at a time, meaning that power will flow through one line while air flow spoilers are installed on the other.
“This approach allows for continued power delivery to customers of Estes Park Power and Communications during the work, which will occur via helicopter. The Town of Estes Park is not expected to experience any power outages as a result of this project, but during each phase there will be a single source of power serving the town,” Platte River said.
The first phase of the project is expected to last 10 days with anticipated completion by Thursday, March 7.
The second phase is tentatively scheduled for March 8 and will last about 10 days.
Successful completion of the first two phases will determine the timeline of the final stretch of this project. Platte River will notify the town as each phase is completed.