Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 13, 2001

Winsted residents complain of power outages

By Patrice Waldron

Residents in Pheasant Run, Shady Creek Drive, and Fairlawn Avenue have been having frequent power outages, Winsted City Council member Bonnie Quast told the rest of the council Tuesday.

Xcel Energy has been repeatedly contacted about the problem. Winsted City Administrator Brent Mareck has spoken with a regional manager at Xcel, and will continue to follow up on the matter.

"I've been in contact with Xcel Energy on a daily basis, trying to resolve this matter," Mareck said.

When questioned about the outages, Jim Rhodes, regional community relations manager for Xcel Energy stated that he believes the problem is due to trees hitting the power lines.

"We're looking for the immediate reason why things happen. There have been quite a few outages, more than we find acceptable," Rhodes said.

There are several large willows located in the area which has experienced the outages which are also growing near the overhead power lines, Rhodes said.

Council member Tom Wiemiller reported being told by an Xcel Energy lineman, that he believes the problem is due to a system overload.

I've told them (Xcel energy) on several occasions, that any time they need to trim some trees, just come to the council for approval, explained Mayor Don Guggemos.

"I think we need to give Brent (Mareck) and the system time to work," Council member Tom Ollig said.

Xcel has a plan for vegetation management based on the advice of their staff forester, and keeping in mind what's best for the trees.

Trees are trimmed sufficiently so that the crews ideally return to an area about every three to four years. If the trees grow more than anticipated, the crews must return. Correcting an overgrowth problem involves several steps. A crew must determine equipment needed for the job, based on the tree trunk size. The proper trimming time for the trees or shrubs is established. This is especially true with flowering shrubs. If a flowing shrub is trimmed at the wrong time, it may not flower the following year.

The Xcel trimming crews have to do their jobs, but residents are reminded that they don't want to force people to let them trim. The goal is to trim properly, to preserve the tree, not destroy.

Mareck gave the following reminders to residents who experience frequent power outages:

· the city staff is aware of the problem, and has made it a priority to find a solution as soon as possible.

· calling the city office will help him keep track of the extent of the problem.

· calls made to Xcel Energy help them track the extent of the problem, and more readily determine the cause. The power outage number at Xcel is: 800-895-1999

· direct questions to Mareck at the city offices, (320) 485-2366.

· an attempt is being made to have an Xcel Energy representative present at the next city council meeting.

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