Vail Daily Editorial Board

Our View

February 21, 2018

The power went out in the western Eagle Valley the evening of Monday, Feb. 19. The lights came back on fewer than 90 minutes later. The outage was notable for its scope — lights went out from Eagle to Dotsero. But also notable was that the lights went out at all.

Power outages, particularly widespread ones such as Monday's, are pretty rare in our part of the world. Power outages were more common 25 years ago.

Technology has improved, of course, and more of the valley's power lines are buried, which protects the service. Then there's the quick response of Holy Cross Energy, which had the outage solved before even the company expected. Online messages from the Eagle County Sheriff's Office predicted the power would be back on by 10:30 p.m. The lights — and cellphone towers and Wi-Fi routers — were up and functioning in Gypsum before 10 p.m.

Kudos to Holy Cross.

Monday's power outage tells us a couple of things.

First: Make sure you know where the flashlights and candles are in the house.

Second: As fewer of us have landline phones, we need to ensure we can get by for a few or several hours without cell service or Wi-Fi. A landline phone — an old-school, non-wireless one — is a guarantee of being able to reach emergency services, if needed. Landline phone service doesn't depend on power from an electric utility.

The good news is that few of us feel the need for that level of backup because of the reliability of our electric service.

Reliable electricity is just one way life in our mountain valley has become simpler over the years.

Back in the early 1990s, it wasn't unusual for a strong winter storm to leave Interstate 70 on the valley floor snowpacked and icy for a few days at a time.

Now, thanks to a combination of manpower and liberal use of de-icing spray — and, yes, more traffic — I-70 clears pretty quickly after even a big storm.

Some may grouse about more tourists, more residents and more traffic, but the Vail Valley these days is in many ways the best of two worlds: We're still a small, close-knit community with quick access to remarkable recreation and the mind-clearing power of the backcountry. But we also have access to well-stocked grocery stores, the world's biggest retail company is no more than a 30-minute drive from any spot in the valley and deliveries from online companies are, mostly, reliable and quick.

For all of this, we should be grateful.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.

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