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FAQ: Outages

Outages

Outages

To report an outage, or to receive outage information or restoration estimates, call Xcel Energy's outage line 1-800-895-1999.

Our crews focus on restoring the largest groups of affected customers first.

How do I report an outage?

You can help us get a jump on power restoration by telling us about outages. To report an electric outage, please call us at 1-800-895-1999. Our automated service makes it easy and fast. It takes less than 60 seconds to report an outage. Simply follow the prompts. Or if you prefer, you can wait to speak to a customer contact representative. We recommend that before you contact Xcel Energy to report an outage that you check your breakers and fuses. Occasionally, a fuse in the home causes the outage. When you report an outage at your home or business, Xcel Energy will send a Responder to your address. If your outage is caused by a problem inside your home or business, please note that you may be charged for the field call.

When will my power be restored?

The Xcel Energy restoration process gives top priority to situations that threaten public safety, such as live, downed wires. The remaining work is prioritized based on what will restore power to the largest number of customers most quickly. After we have re-energized the major lines, we can more effectively track down causes of outages along the lower-voltage distribution lines. This method of restoration allows our crews to safely work on the distribution system. Widespread outages: When storms disrupt power to more than 100,000 customers, it may take several days to fully restore power, depending on the extent of damage and how easily our crews can access the damaged areas. Individual outage: As they communicate with our dispatching center, we gain a clearer idea of how long the power may remain out and determine if we can re-route power through another line to get you back in service faster.

What if I have a medical emergency?

In any emergency call 911. In serious situations during extended power outages, customers who use electrically-powered life support equipment may need to seek medical assistance or to relocate to a public shelter that has back-up power generation. During large-scale storm restoration efforts, our crews focus first on restoring service to operations affecting public safety and health, and to the largest groups of affected customers. When we begin to restore service to individual customers, Life Support Designation customers have higher priority. We will work to support the needs of households where life-support equipment is used. If you feel you qualify, call us at 1-800-895-4999 for a Life Support Designation form. Ask your physician to fill it out, and return it to us.

Why can't you tell me why my power is out?

As soon as we become aware of an outage, a crew is dispatched to identify the exact outage location. Due to the complexity of electric systems and the variety of causes for an outage, this process can take several minutes, or, in extreme cases, several hours. Outages can be caused by many things: weather, wildlife, trees, public damage (pole or cable hits), and equipment malfunction or failure. Sometimes, the cause is evident; sometimes it is obscure. An outage could result from a combination of causes. As soon as we know the problem, and how long it will take to fix it, our dispatchers will send updates to our customer service center. Our customer contact representatives are happy to share any available information about the outage itself and the expected time of restoration. Please call 1-800-895-4999.

What causes an outage?

Interruptions to electrical power can be caused by weather or non-weather related events. Weather-related power outages can be caused by lighting strikes, extreme heat, ice, high winds, tornadoes, etc., damaging many power lines over a large area. Since weather-related outages can be widespread, repairs may be more complex and restoration may take from several hours to several days in extreme situations. Non-weather related power outages can be caused by tree contact with power lines, equipment failure or damage by outside parties or animals, underground cable failures, or Xcel Energy-initiated outages needed to ensure public safety, restore services or maintain equipment.

What are pole fires?

They are rare events caused by electricity "leaking" from a power line to a utility pole, causing it to catch fire. Weather conditions play a major part in pole fires. The pole-top insulators that separate energized power lines from the poles are designed to be cleaned by rains. However, during winter months especially, contaminants such as road salt or magnesium chloride can accumulate on insulators. If precipitation after a snow or ice salting includes mist or fog, and the insulators are contaminated, electrical current may "leak" or "track" across an insulator to the pole, which can result in a pole fire and a power outage. Xcel Energy washes pole-top equipment in high-risk areas (near heavily used roadways) but during winter months contamination can accumulate during each snowstorm and tracking may occur shortly afterwards. New construction standards now in place are helping to minimize the risk of pole fires; we construct and rebuild to the newer standards.

What causes lights to flicker?

Flickering lights maybe caused by a poor connection on a line serving you and your neighbors, or a poor connection in your meter or breaker box. The flicker occurs because contact is occurring only part of the time. Temporary faults on the power system can also cause voltage dips. It is not uncommon to see lights flicker during extreme heat, high winds, and thunderstorms.

What if I have mast damage due to the outage?

First, report your outage by calling us at 1-800-895-1999. The mast, a pipe-like housing that connects service wires to your meter, is considered customer-owned equipment. If it has been damaged during a storm, you will need to contact an electrician for repairs before we can reconnect service. It is possible that we may be able to provide a temporary connection until your electrician can come out to fix it. Please note that an inspection may be required by your city.

What if there are tree limbs on wires near my home?

Xcel Energy performs maintenance trimming work around all pole-to-pole distribution and transmission electric lines. However, if you have an emergency situation such as a broken branch on an electric wire, please contact us at 1-800-895-4999 so that we can issue a service order if necessary. If the issue is from a pole to the house then please provide the representative with as much detail as possible so that we can handle it appropriately. Xcel Energy will clear the line if a broken limb is on the wire and would cause an outage, or damage to customer mast. If the trees on your property are in the way of the wires coming to your home or business you will need to schedule an appointment to drop the lines (de-energize them), then contact a contractor to trim the necessary trees. Our representatives can schedule a ‘line drop’ with a minimum advance notice of 48 hours. You will be responsible for trimming the trees from the pole to your home.

How does the electric distribution system work?

Power is carried to your home or business through an electric distribution system. Electricity is generated at a power plant and distributed by high-voltage transmission lines through various distribution systems until it reaches your home or business.

How do I report a streetlight outage?

You can help us by reporting streetlight outages in your neighborhood. To report a streetlight outage you can fill out and submit a form . Or, you can call 1-800-895-1999 (prompt 3) to report it.
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