Friday, December 21, 2012

Restoration continues in aftermath of winter storm

A winter storm entered our service area early Thursday, Dec. 20, and moved in an easterly direction throughout the day and evening. We've had an opportunity to review all of the data  -- more than 100,000 of our customers were impacted by this severe snow storm. We've been able to restore more than 90 percent of the customers who were affected. Of the remaining 5,600 customers who are without power, the vast majority are in the West Bend, Menomonee Falls and Watertown areas. We expect virtually all of our customers outside of those hard-hit areas to be restored tonight.

We have seen more extensive damage in the West Bend, Menomonee Falls and Watertown areas -- more trees down, more wires down, more damaged equipment.

Given the extent of the damage, we expect our crews will be working through late Saturday to restore service.

Our first priority in any restoration is to remove hazards – primarily live wires. Ensuring customer and public safety is our first priority. Stay away – and keep pets away – from any line that’s on the ground or hanging within reach. Always assume any line is a power line and that it’s energized. Report a downed line or an outage to our hotline: 800-662-4797.

After the hazards are addressed, we immediately address outages involving large numbers of customers, bringing big groups of customers back on line at the same time. Then we address smaller, more isolated and single outages. These take the longest to repair as we are literally going from one address to the next to determine the problem and fix it. In many cases we find considerable tree damage that has to be removed before we can get at the lines to make repairs.

We’ve put all of our resources into this winter storm restoration effort. Many troubleshooters and line men and women have worked double shifts in the rain, snow and wind to restore power. After they get 8 hours of rest, they come back to work. When our crews finish in one area, we move them to where they are most needed, regardless of their home base.

During the restoration of Dec. 20 and 21, our trucks have had a difficult time navigating some of the roads in Waukesha, Washington and Dodge counties that were covered with heavy snow drifts.

Customers in the affected areas should check with their local emergency government for assistance, including warm shelter, if they do not have other resources.

Safety tips   Customers are reminded to use generators safely. Keep them outdoors and at least 20 feet away from any open doors, including garage doors. Do not use grills or other charcoal cooking devices indoors, and never use a gas oven in an attempt to heat a home. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to protect food. Check for tips on food safety when power is out. Keep electric and gas meters free of snow and ice and keep furnace exhaust outlets clear.

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