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Despite rumors, tree lighting had nothing to do with power outages experienced in Delano

December 3, 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Delano area residents experienced four power outages around Thanksgiving – including one about a half hour after the lighting of the Christmas tree in downtown.

“In spite of the potential huge surge when that tree was plugged in, that actually had nothing to do with it,” said Delano Municipal Utilities General Manager Hal Becker with a laugh.

Becker said the outages actually originated on Great River Energy’s (GRE) Transmission System.

“They experienced a major fault on Thursday (Thanksgiving) which resulted in a high fault current surge through their system and throughout part of Xcel’s system.”

He said Delano Municipal Utilities’ system is connected to Xcel’s system, and any major faults on the transmission grid can cause momentary outages for Delano.

Becker said they attempted to re-energize their line Nov. 23, resulting in another fault.

“They experienced additional problems re-energizing the line, resulting in two more momentary outages,” Becker said. “Xcel Energy has informed us that GRE was finally successful in fusing their line, and they don’t anticipate any further outages.”

Becker said the surges took place in a much larger area than Delano, and probably affected thousands of customers.

Becker said he has been in contact with Xcel Energy to let them know that his office is concerned that GRE had so much difficulty in closing that line.

“They’ve assured us they’re checking into it, also to see if there is any way to add more equipment to the system to prevent these momentary outages from happening,” he said.

Becker said the good news is that several municipal utilities, co-ops, and investor-owned utilities are working on a plan to start upgrading the transmission system in Minnesota.

“Delano Municipal Utilities, through our agency, Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, is participating in these projects,” Becker said.