Branches cause power outagesBroken tree branches were to blame for two brief power outages Tuesday that affected about 6,500 Xcel Energy customers. The first outage lasted 28 minutes during the noon hour and impacted 5,163 customers north of 12th Avenue North near the Red River and east of the airport.
By: By Kristen M. Daum , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Broken tree branches were to blame for two brief power outages Tuesday that affected about 6,500 Xcel Energy customers.
The first outage lasted 28 minutes during the noon hour and impacted 5,163 customers north of 12th Avenue North near the Red River and east of the airport.
Barely 90 minutes later, 1,366 other customers lost power within several blocks north of Main Avenue between the Red River and 20th Street. That outage also lasted about a half-hour before service was restored.
In both incidents, fallen tree branches collapsed on main feeder lines owned and operated by Xcel.
Torrential downpours fell throughout Tuesday dumping nearly 2 inches of rain on the metro area.
That rain plus the Memorial Day storm three weeks ago have weakened some area trees, Xcel operations manager Ron Jablinske said.
“It isn’t unusual for tree branches to crack or weaken after a severe storm,” he said.
Xcel encouraged customers to report broken or cracked trees that could fall on power lines, so crews can trim the trees to prevent a potential outage.
While Tuesday’s incidents were relatively brief, the outages perpetuate a continuing trend with Xcel’s reliability in the Fargo area.
The Minneapolis-based company provides electric service to 46,260 customers in North Dakota, including parts of Fargo and West Fargo.
During the past 15 months, Xcel has had at least 15 separate outages affecting metro-area customers — a pattern that has raised repeated questions about the company’s infrastructure.
The most recent major outage came during the Memorial Day storm, which brought close to hurricane-force winds and left as many as 39,000 Xcel customers in without power, some for two days.
Xcel spokeswoman Bonnie Lund said she was unable to comment Tuesday about customers’ concerns over the repeated outages.
Meanwhile, Xcel Energy is requesting a base electric rate increase of 12 percent for 2011 and 2.5 percent for 2012.
The request includes a 2011 capital budget of $942,000 to extend, reinforce and relocate underground lines.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission is weighing the request, with formal hearings scheduled Aug. 9-12 in Bismarck.
Kristen Daum is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.