On April 13, at Mountain Parks Electric’s regular monthly board meeting at the Wattenberg Event Center, a few attendees reported an increased frequency in blinking lights and sensitive computer equipment resetting in Walden. Understandably, they requested an explanation.
The answer: Believe it or not, this spring in Walden, the birds are to blame.
The most common causes of power outages in North Park are wet heavy snow on power lines, power line wind turbulence and animal activity (which can include squirrels, birds and other creatures). “It's not uncommon for birds to try to nest on our power lines,” said Adam Paulson, MPE’s Manager of Operations & Engineering. “It’s just happening more now since the East Troublesome Fire. There are fewer trees to nest in than there were a couple of years ago, so our distribution grid is attracting their attention.”
In response, the MPE crew is regularly patrolling lines and rerouting the delivery of power to Jackson County using lines that are less frequented by birds. Additionally, MPE adjusted grid protective device settings and is installing more bird guards to prevent nesting.
For homes and businesses with sensitive electronic equipment, installing backup generators or surge protectors can help prevent equipment resetting caused by power blinks.
“Despite this current challenge, our system reliability has improved in recent years,” Paulson added. “This is largely due to our aggressive vegetation mitigation efforts near power lines in response to the Pine Beetle Epidemic.”