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Arc flash at hydroelectric plant injures five

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By Corinne Westeman

An arc flash at Xcel Energy’s Cabin Creek Hydroelectric generating station on Thursday morning left five employees with non-life-threatening injuries.
At 8:10 a.m. Thursday, authorities responded to an emergency at the plant, which is above Georgetown along Guanella Pass Road.
Xcel confirmed that about eight employees and a few contractors were on-site at the time. Everyone was evacuated, and five employees were transported to the hospital. They were treated and released that same day.
According to Mark Stutz, spokesperson for Xcel, the incident was initially reported as a fire, but it was actually an arc flash, where there is a flash of electricity off the equipment.
Because one of the hydroelectric generating units isn’t operating during a yearlong upgrade, Cabin Creek Unit B was live and ready to produce power if called upon to meet a higher demand.
The arc flash occurred at Unit B, which is inside a self-contained concrete block, he said.
Both units were offline while authorities investigated the cause and assessed Unit B. It was put back into service over the weekend, Stutz said.
Because the station only provides power during periods of high demand, there were power outages, he added.