Published February 13 2011
Xcel won't offer compensation to customers affected by Saturday’s outageXcel Energy officials said Sunday there will be no compensation for those affected by Saturday’s massive power outage, which left thousands of Fargo-area customers without service for as many as 12 hours.
“If a circumstance occurs in which we would be negligent in some way, that would be a consideration; then we consider possible compensation,” Xcel spokeswoman Bonnie Lund said Sunday.
“But outages happen occasionally,” Lund added. “These things occur whether it’s through nature or equipment failures.”
More than 16,000 Xcel customers were affected by the widespread outage that began at 1:40 p.m. Saturday.
That figure represents more than a third of Xcel’s North Dakota customers.
Power was gradually returned throughout the evening hours, but at least 5,600 customers still didn’t have power as of 10 p.m. Saturday.
Service wasn’t completely restored to them until 1:45 a.m. Sunday.
The incident affected large areas in West Fargo, south Fargo and portions of the industrial park in north Fargo.
Xcel provides gas and electric utility service to about 46,260 customers in North Dakota, according to the company’s website.
Lund said it’s highly unusual for outages to last so long, calling this “a complex situation.”
Lund said the average Xcel customer faces less than one outage a year, which usually lasts less than one hour.
Xcel crews were still trying to determine Sunday the exact cause of the outage, but equipment failure was a contributing factor, Lund said.
The company said Saturday that a 115-kilovolt transmission line tripped offline at Main Avenue and 42nd Street in Fargo.
Equipment failed and sparked a fire at the substation there – cutting off power to the facility and all customers it serves.
Crews rerouted power to some areas throughout Saturday evening.
By early Sunday, they were able to re-energize one of the transformers at the damaged substation to completely restore service, Lund said.
Crews resumed repairs at the substation Sunday, Lund said.
Still, the lengthy span of Saturday’s outage forced some Fargo-area residents to make other arrangements overnight.
Some inforum.com readers reported that they left their homes to spend the night at area hotels.
Several businesses also were affected by the outage, losing customers on what would typically be a high sales day.
For example, customers at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Fargo were eventually ushered out of the store when it became evident the power wouldn’t soon return, store manager Dorothy Loeks said.
The store, at 1201 42nd St. SW, got power back around 5:30 p.m. and was able to re-open, Loeks said.
Once the lights came on, she said, customers flocked to the store.
“It was frustrating, but we still ended up with a good day,” Loeks said. “It definitely was not what we expected. I’m sure it’s a lot harder on any of the smaller businesses that count on Saturdays.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541