County: Tuesday’s Power Outage Started With Underground Fault


An overhead power line failure was originally thought to be the cause of this morning’s power outage, however an underground fault is more likely to have been the culprit.

In a cascading series of events, an underground fault triggered the initial outage at 6:38 a.m. In one of the early restoration efforts, that fault caused an overhead line to burn up near the Timber Ridge area. Once the overhead line was repaired, the Canyon Road area then faulted again. Line workers from the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU) used fault finders to look for the exact location of the fault. It was located around 2:30 p.m. on Trinity Dr. in front of the Trinity on the Hill Church.

Power was restored for all customers gradually over several hours. Affected customers spanned from areas near Oppenheimer Drive through Western Area, the Los Alamos High School, the Denver Steels, along Canyon Road from Diamond to the Los Alamos Nature Center and up to Central and Oppenheimer, as well as the ski hill and the ice rink.

Customers in other areas experienced “blinks,” or very short outages, when DPU crews attempted restorations.

DPU’s electric distribution system has been aggressively upgraded over the past 20 years, however there are areas with underground infrastructure that have not yet been replaced. A capital plan has been developed to update aged, underground, high priority facilities over the next five years. The section of line where the fault occurred is included in that five-year plan.