Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of extended power outages in Fargo.
Xcel Energy says there were a number of factors. One was the failure of some underground lines. Second, some tree limbs took out overhead lines. And third was due to a squirrel. In addition, technology to switch from a downed trunk line to a live line didn’t work because of battery failure.
Xcel’s Mark Nisbet told the Public Service Commission there are plans to replace some of the underground line.
"I do know we had a five year plan in place to do it," Nisbet said. "Were re-evaluating whether that is sufficient."
Nisbet said the utility is also using infra-red technology to inspect its overhead lines. And he says the intelliteam switchers will get new battieries.
"The life of the batteries didn't quite live up to what we expected," Nisbet said. "But overall, we do believe the technology has increased our reliability. We get customers restored sooner than they would have been otherwise."
Nisbet says even with the outages, Xcel’s system reliability is much better than the national average.
"When we see specific customers impacted by repeated outages, we feel honor-bound to jump into it and see if we can solve that issue," Nisbet said.
If a customer has three or more outages of at least an hour in a calendar year, the customer will receive a $50 credit on the electric bill. Nisbet says these outages didn’t meet that threshold. But he says some Xcel customers in Fargo will see a credit this month – based on what happened last year.