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Electric System Monitoring

A message from our Light & Power Operations Manager about the Electric System Monitoring Program:
Electric System Monitoring Public Service Announcement Video

What to expect from the Electric System Monitoring Program:
Public Service Announcement Video

Frequently Asked Questions

What is contact voltage?

Our electric system is nearly all underground. Older or damaged low voltage cables can cause electrical faults which energize street-level surfaces. This is known as contact voltage. Virtually anything could be energized by a cable fault. Generally, these faults draw a small amount of electrical current and are not dangerous. However, without proactive detection and repair, these faults can persist and there is potential risk to the public. Finding and repairing contact voltage faults reduces the possibility of injury to the general public and utility workers, as well as eliminating system losses.

Why is there a truck driving slowly around my neighborhood?

Utilities is performing a city-wide survey of our electric system. Due to the vast area of the survey, it is necessary to use a vehicle. The measurements can only be taken when the vehicle is driving slowly. The vehicle will have amber safety beacons with the Fort Collins Utilities logo.

What are utility workers doing with hand held testers near poles and pedestals?

During our contact voltage survey, if a surface is suspected to carry low voltage, the Light and Power crews will manually check the area with handheld tools.

Why is there caution tape or plastic wrapped around a pole, electric vault or pedestal?

Light and Power crews have confirmed a low voltage contact voltage on a surface. They are making the area safe with protective wrap or cones and warning tape. If our crews find a contact voltage that could be harmful to the public, they will remain on site and make necessary repairs to eliminate the problem. If immediate repairs are not possible, crews will de-energize the problem equipment until proper repairs can be made.

What do I do when I see caution tape wrapped around a pole, vault or pedestal?

While the object will not cause harm, please stay clear of the area. Questions can be directed to Light and Power at 970-221-6700.

I felt a shock when I touched a pole, vault or pedestal, what should I do?

Contact Utilities and report the incident and location to 970-221-6700. Light & Power crews will be dispatched immediately to repair the equipment.

Why is this work performed at night?

The contact voltage survey will include our streetlights, which must be evaluated at night while they are active.

Is this a problem limited to the City of Fort Collins?

No, contact voltage can be present anywhere there is underground electric cable.

How long will this survey take?

This citywide mobile detection survey will take approximately eight weeks. Utilities is incorporating limited, periodic and directed mobile detection surveys into its regular maintenance program.

Are contact voltages a new issue?

No, contact voltage has previously been detected and eliminated through Light & Power’s regular maintenance routines. The mobile contact voltage survey is a new program being implemented to proactively detect contact voltages across the entire electric service area.

Where does the money for this program come from?

The funding for the original mobile contact voltage survey was approved as a project in Light and Power Operations in the 2017/2018 budget cycle. Part of the funding was used to purchase equipment and training necessary for Light and Power crews to perform the survey, as part of scheduled maintenance. As such, funding will now be included in the approved maintenance budget. Should staff see the need to perform a short term citywide survey, it will be sought to be included as a project in a future annual budget.

Fort Collins Utilities is committed to the reliability of our electric distribution system and to the safety of our customers. The inspection, maintenance and enhancement of the safety of our electric equipment is a top priority.

We work proactively to mitigate and respond to any potential safety concerns and promptly respond to any issues, working to immediately make safe any conditions that may pose a threat to public safety. As part of that effort, we have a mobile monitoring program to identify pieces of equipment across town before they fail or cause injury to the public.

This program is accomplished through mobile voltage surveys that take place at night to proactively detect and repair these sites. Fort Collins Utilities contractors work closely alongside Fort Collins Utilities line crews throughout the survey. Any findings are immediately made safe and permanently repaired.