The owner of Josiah's Coffee Shop in the CNA building says two of the most recent outages happened during the business' busiest times, lasting up to five hours. And while there are concerns there isn't enough power to go around in the growing neighborhood, Xcel says the outages are simply a coincidence.
On a busy Wednesday afternoon, customers grab a late lunch at Josiah's Coffeehouse. But owner Steve Hildebrand is on edge, unsure when the next power outage will hit his East Bank business.
"For all of us to experience these same outages, this wasn't something I dreamed up," Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand is talking about a string of power outages in the last five weeks -- causing him to lose money and customers on some of the busiest days of the week.
"When you have to close down at one o'clock because you can't cook food for customers, it's dark in here, the cash register systems don't work," Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand says his coffee shop lost power for up to five hours on July 20, August 4 and yesterday afternoon.
"It's unfortunate. We're working to maximize reliability," Xcel Energy Principal Manager Jim Wilcox said. "Our power system is an electrical mechanical device and we do have outages. They are unavoidable."
Xcel Energy's Jim Wilcox says yesterday's outage was caused by a contractor damaging a wire. Two other outages were caused by damage leftover from April's ice storm. But Hildebrand says there have been more outages than Excel admits to. He questions whether there's enough power in the growing downtown neighborhood to meet the need. Wilcox insists there is.
"All of these issues are identifiable and explainable and they are all sort of unique, with two of them related to the ice storm," Wilcox said.
"They may not have it on record at Xcel Energy, but it really happened. To me, it doesn't matter, the details are less important than what are we going to do to ensure there aren't power failures in the future," Hildebrand said.
Wilcox adds that some of the outages could be attributed to problems in the CNA building itself. Something that Hildebrand denies saying that 8th and Railroad was also without power. It is also important to note than Josiah's isn't a direct customer with Xcel but rather pays its electricity through the landlord, Lloyd Companies.