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$67 Million Upgrade For Xcel Systems

May 20, 2014, 5:02 PM by Brady Mallory

$67 Million Upgrade For Xcel Systems

A company responsible for keeping the lights on is about the re-energize electrical systems in Sioux Falls.  In the next two years, Xcel Energy will pay for $67 million worth of infrastructure updates and new additions.

Jim Wilcox with Xcel said the improvements will make the electrical systems more reliable for customers and make it easier to get the power back on during an outage.  This is a relief for at least one business owner.

"The coolers, it could be a disaster," Josephine Schallenkamp, owner of Josephine's: A Unique Floral Designery, said.  "We can function for a while without electricity.  The coolers.  It's important."

Wilcox said the upcoming project could be the solution.  Xcel will add new distribution lines, which will automatically switch to an alternate power source during an outage.

"We'll get the lights back on in a minute versus maybe an hour," Wilcox said.

There are already 10 of these in Sioux Falls, and Wilcox said everyone in every corner of the city will be covered in the next ten years.  Other improvements include replacing the substation at the stockyards and upgrading the transmission loop's voltage from 69,000 to 115,000.

"New taller poles.  There will be steel poles; there won't be wooden poles.  So that's a new technology.  It's more reliable in itself," Wilcox said.

As for what this will cost customers, Wilcox said it will be a few years before we see a rate increase for this project.  It is $67 million worth of improvements, but to Schallenkamp, it is invaluable piece of mind.

"We could do without the phones for a little bit; the other things we rely on electricity.  But just knowing something would kick in and keep those cooler going is good," Schallenkamp said.

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