Xcel applying short-term fix for power problems

Sharna Johnson

An Xcel spokesman said a short-term solution to Portales’ power troubles has been found and crews are working to resolve recent problems.

Technicians are installing a higher capacity breaker in a substation near downtown Portales while at the same time working to shift power loads from overloaded lines, spokesman Wes Reeves said Tuesday.

“(The new breaker) will allow more power to flow,” Reeves said, as opposed to the existing breaker, which trips the circuit at a lower level, causing power failures.

About 600-800 Portales Xcel customers lost power four times in the last week, with the most recent incident being Tuesday morning.

“Customers should be aware that these are extreme conditions and should be prepared to keep warm in some other way if the power goes out again,” Reeves said.

In western Portales, where the problems have been concentrated, there has been a growth and increased electric demand over the last several years, according to a press release from Xcel.

“We understand how important reliable electric service is, and we apologize for the inconvenience caused by these recent outage events,” said David Essex, Xcel manager for community and economic development in Clovis.

“We are doing everything we can to remedy this situation.”

The extreme cold weather Monday and Tuesday aggravated load issues, causing the most recent failures.

However Portales wasn’t alone.

Clovis schools were delayed two hours Tuesday morning when two similar outages affected 992 Clovis customers.

Citing similar issues with growth, Reeves said Clovis’ outage was more of an anomaly than the issue faced in Portales.

“It’s the coldest day of the year and if everybody gets up at roughly the same time and starts turning up the heat, (it can happen),” he said. “It’s not terribly uncommon on the coldest day of the year or sometimes the hottest day of the year. In these extreme temperatures we sometimes see overloading situations.”

Temperatures in the area dipped to lows around 10 degrees Monday night.

It was 14 degrees in the area as of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.