Minneapolis looks for ways to prevent power outages

10:01 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - The fact that thousands of people have spent days in the dark after several rounds of storms last weekend has prompted city officials to take a look at changes for the future.

"When you have this many people without power, it has huge implications for our productivity," says Mayor R.T. Rybak.

What's on the table? Rybak says the city will look at everything from what kinds of trees are planted on the boulevards to whether burying power lines would be a better option.

"We're in a new world with better energy sources and more volatile weather and we need to look differently at problems we've had for a long time," says Rybak.

Saturated ground combined with high winds toppled trees and took down power lines across the city. Many of those trees were in boulevards.

"We may need to make even more compromises in the sidewalks because we value these trees so much. But, the reality is when you plant a tree next to a sidewalk, next to a street, something's got to give," he says.

The trees are just one aspect of changes needed for the future. The bigger issue is making sure our power source is more secure. That means looking at things like alternative power sources, new power line technology, or buying our overhead lines. The latter is something Xcel Energy has already looked into.

"If you tried to underground the overhead system right now it would be massively expensive for our customers and our customers would be extremely dissatisfied with the price," says Kent Larson, Sr. Vice President of Operations at Xcel.

Rybak says the city might also consider something like incentives for those homes that go off the grid, possibly using solar power and reducing the number of people dependent on our current system.

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