Twice in the last month, power has gone out in at least a part of Sleepy Eye.

Twice in the last month, power has gone out in at least a part of Sleepy Eye. On Feb. 20, around 11 p.m., we received a troubled call about lights flickering in the 400 block of Maple and Walnut Streets southwest. Our crew responded and found a burnt connection on the neutral wire at the transformer that supplies this block of homes with electricity. The burnt connection was cut out and replaced and power was restored in about an hour. This was the only area affected.

On Monday, March 5 around 12:10 p.m., and again at about 7:30 p.m., the whole town went dark. Both times were due to ice build-up on wires and strong winds. Normally winds don’t bother overhead wires too much—unless it’s really a crazy wind—but add a coating of ice on the wires along with the wind and the wires will “gallop” wildly. Eventually they make contact with each other causing an outage. That is just what happened last Monday. Freezing drizzle coated the wires with a layer of ice and wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour moved across the area. In the wide-open country, the situation is even worse. Both outages on March 5 were a result of the 69,000-volt wires that bring electricity into Sleepy Eye, banging together, causing the transmission line to trip. In both cases, our electric crew started generators in the power plant, and ran them for a little over an hour each time, to try to be sure that the power was going to stay on. The first outage took about 15 minutes to get the generators online and the lights back on. The second at 7:30 p.m. took only eight minutes to get the lights back on—which is quite remarkable considering everyone on the crew had to come from home.

Spring is just around the corner and spring storms always bring along the chance of power outages. We certainly hope for the best, but we prepare for the reality that it could happen. I want to encourage everyone, please call in when your lights go out or when they are flickering! I know, you think your neighbor probably called or that we somehow know when the lights go out, but we don’t always know. Especially if it is only a block or two. Don’t sit in the dark for an hour waiting for someone else to call. Even if you are the fifteenth caller, or the thirty-fifth caller, we don’t mind. The number to call is 507-794-6651. It is monitored 24 hours a day. The sooner we know there is a problem, the sooner we can begin to fix it.