SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More than 600 Xcel Energy employees responded to power outages caused by this week’s derecho storm.
Eric Pauli, the community relations manager for Xcel Energy in Sioux Falls, said 55,000 customers were impacted by the storm and by Thursday morning power was restored for all customers.
Pauli, who has worked for Xcel Energy since 2004, said crews have responded to major power outages associated with three storms since May.
“It’s been really busy this year. It’s kept our crews and our staff very busy,” Pauli said. “A common thunderstorm is just fine. We just don’t need those 80-plus mile-an-hour winds rolling through anymore.”
Pauli said the high speed straight-line winds cause most damage for systems built to withstand harsh weather in winter and summer conditions.
“When you start dealing with 80-plus mile-an-hour winds, that takes a toll on everything,” Pauli said. “Utility poles, infrastructure, roads, houses and so on.”
Pauli said the Xcel Energy website or mobile app shows the outages in the area. He said that’s the best tool to know the status. He also added crews are always watching weather forecasts to know where they should shift extra resources.
He added widespread storms like derechos, which consist of winds greater than 58 mph along a path at least 240 miles in length, can make getting additional workers around tougher.
“We can mobilize a lot of people, a lot of staff in a really big hurry,” Pauli said. “There’s been a lot of work, a lot of effort has been put in through the years to improve this so we can get our customers back on as quickly as possible.”
Pauli said it’s also good for people to report outages and not assume someone else has. That allows Xcel to be aware of the problem and crews can investigate the issue.
“There could be a potential customer if they don’t call in their power outage, we might not know about it,” Pauli said. “It could be a branch laying on top of a line going from a pole to a house that maybe is still energized yet the mass on the side of the house was broken.”
Pauli said he understands how frustrating losing power can be, but he thanked customers who have understood the work that needs to be done and allowed our crews to do their job.