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Update: Empire Electric attributes outage to Tri-State; 3,791 customers affected

Empire plans text alerts in April, maps in summer

Empire Electric Association of Cortez on Monday attributed a widespread power outage early Sunday morning to an interruption of power from its supplier, Tri-State Generation Transmission Association.

About 3,791 customers lost power, said Chris Snyder, business services manager for Empire.

Power went out about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a telephone recording at Empire’s outage line, 565-4444. Power was restored to downtown Cortez about 5:35 a.m.

The outage was a supply-side problem from Tri-State Generation Transmission Association, which provides wholesale power to the Empire Electric distribution system, Snyder said.

The power-supply outage occurred at a substation on the west side of Cortez and affected western and northern areas in and near Cortez.

Each substation has alternate feeds the scenario, Snyder said. After crews identified the affected substation, they switched to the alternative power source, and service was resumed in about an hour.

Information about the cause of the Tri-State interruption and whether the problem has been repaired, was not available Monday morning.

“Crews were dispatched and were able to quickly identify the location, then reroute power to the substation,” Snyder said. “We did get a few calls. Most people were asleep and woke up to flashing alarm clocks. We appreciate the public’s understanding when these things happen.”

At the time, Empire could not estimate the time that power would be restored, according to the recorded message. Crews were working on the problem, said the phone message and a Nixle alert from the Montezuma County Office of Emergency Management.

Power was restored to parts of Main Street Cortez about 5:37 a.m. By 7:17 a.m., a service representative said Empire had no new reports of outages. The representative could not say how widespread the outage was or how many customers were affected.

Snyder added that Empire plans to add a texting system in late April to notify customers of outages and updates.

“This system will also have integrations with our website that will feed outage maps for member reference,” Snyder said. “These maps will show vicinity of the outage as well as number of meters affected.”

“We expect these new tools to be up and running early summer,” he said.

Empire serves more than 16,500 customers area in the Four Corners, from Mancos, Colorado, to Monticello, Utah, according to findenergy.com.