By Town of Estes Park Utilities Director Reuben Bergsten
There are things we never think about - until they break. Reliable, high-quality water and electric service are near the top of the list.
The Town of Estes Park’s Utilities Department strives to improve our services while minimizing costs. The Utility’s Information Technology Division uses high-speed networks to support all Town operations and those networks are critical to the daily operations of your water and electric service.
The Water Division operates two treatment plants and over 100 miles of underground pipes. Electronic sensors continuously monitor raw water supplies, ensure storage levels for adequate fire protection, and track the quality of water delivered to you. Our high-speed communications networks make this happen 24/7. Without these networks, staffing would have to be increased to manually operate the water plants around the clock.
High-speed networks are paramount to electric operations. Over 10,000 meters, hundreds of fuses and two substations must work together with the regional electric grid to provide continuous service. The term “Smart Grid” describes how great electric companies meet growing expectations. Smart meters have reduced the staffing required to visually “read” electric and water meters. In the not-too-distant future, all meters will “talk to each other” and self-report power quality problems and outages. Today, in limited areas, Estes Park Light & Power staff receive alerts as soon as an outage occurs. During the last windstorm, linemen were on the road to repair downed power lines before many customers woke up.
Reliability is essential to Platte River Power Authority, our wholesale electric provider. That reliability requires robust high-speed communications. They knew the single route of fiber optics to Estes Park was inadequate so they've approved construction of a high-speed backup network. It is under construction, and it will provide extra capacity to serve our community.
The importance of high-speed fiber optic networks to our water and electric service will continue to grow. Meanwhile the excess fiber can allow other agencies to add value to other services you need.