Wildfire Mitigation

Wildfire Mitigation Plan

Our primary concern is always the safety and protection of our community and environment. To address the threat of wildfires and extreme weather, we are expanding our maintenance programs to improve the safety and resiliency of our electric grid.

Wildfire Mitigation Plan Overview

This plan will expand upon our existing maintenance and safety programs to significantly reduce fire ignitions caused by our infrastructure while strengthening the overall electric system. The wildfire mitigation plan is part of a larger, ongoing strategic effort to improve the safety and resiliency of our electric grid.

Identifying Wildfire High-Risk Areas

We have identified areas within our service territory that are rated by the Colorado State Forest Service as extreme or elevated fire-threat areas. In these areas, we are conducting enhanced safety inspections of electric infrastructure with the use of aerial patrols and will begin clearing additional vegetation around equipment and structures.

Forecasting Fire Danger Conditions and Modifying the System

When the National Weather Service issues a “Red Flag Warning” anywhere in our service territory, we will modify the operations of the electric system to reduce the chance of an electrical fire in that part of our territory. Once the “Red Flag Warning” has expired, the system will return to regular operation. This increase in fire protection also increases the possibility of more electric service outages.

Colorado State Forest Service Managing Our Forests YouTube Video

Wildfire Readiness

It’s never too early to prepare. There are plenty of things Yampa Valley Electric Association would remind members that they can do to prepare themselves, their families, and their homes, to reduce the risk of wildfire. Things like trimming shrubbery, clearing tree limbs that are close to home, cleaning gutters, and keeping lawns mowed and watered are good first steps.

Members should remove anything within a 15-foot radius around a power pole if possible and maintain unobstructed access to all YVEA equipment, overhead and on the ground. Visit our Vegetation Management page if you have any concerns about trees near your power lines.

Existing Programs

  • Vegetation Management: We’re currently on a five-year cut cycle to analyze and cut if necessary (typical tree growth in five years is ten feet). Dangerous or hazardous trees are removed, including dead trees at risk of falling into overhead power lines. For more information see our Vegetation Management page.
  • System Inspection: We have a program to visually inspect our system every four years. Our visual inspections include the use of ATVs, drones, and helicopters.
  • Pole Testing: Each power pole is tested every ten years (roughly 3,600 poles every year) for structural integrity. Poles that fail to test are replaced.
  • Substation Testing: We test and maintain all devices at our substations on a yearly basis.
  • SCADA Control Switching Points: Allows dispatchers to quickly restore power to large parts of our distribution system using SCADA from our dispatch center.
  • Transmission Lines: Pursuing resilience projects to provide a backup in the event of a catastrophic loss of transmission lines or major substations.
  • Investigate All Temporary Faults On Main Feeders: Temporary faults can sometimes turn into permanent faults, so we spend time patrolling our main feeders for all substation trips, even when the breaker successfully re-closes.
  • Monthly/Annual Substation Inspections: We inspect our substations monthly. We also do an annual dissolved gas analysis (DGA) test for all of our substation transformers to look for increasing levels of certain gasses that can predict internal transformer issues.
  • Breakers: We currently have over 70 devices in the field (reclosers and switches) that provide immediate notification of system disturbances throughout our system allowing us to quickly dispatch operations crews.
  • Advanced Metering: Provides real-time notification of system outages further narrowing down the location of system issues.
  • Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL): Provides dispatchers information on the location of the operations personnel to efficiently dispatch and provide quick response.

New Programs & Initiatives

  • Transmission Line Structures Protection: Wrap the lower section of power line structures with fire-resistant products to provide additional wildfire protection.
  • Improve Vegetation Management: Remove the brush from near the base of the transmission poles and perform right-of-way maintenance.
  • Expanded Distribution Maintenance: Tighten mechanical connections (hotline clamps) through pole-by-pole inspections.
  • New Products (Trip Savers & Non-Expulsion Fuses): Replace a number of our standard expulsion fuses in high-fire-risk areas.