Xcel Energy Explains Just How a Manhole Cover Blew Off - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Xcel Energy Explains Just How a Manhole Cover Blew Off

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We're learning a lot more tonight about the real problems that old electrical cables are causing Xcel Energy crews and you the customer! We reported last week that old cables were to blame for a manhole cover in south Fargo that blew it's lid twice. It left some without power and one driver in need of a new tire. But how common is this? Valley News team's Eric Crest spoke with Xcel Energy about how it happened in the first place.

When a manhole cover can be pushed right off of it's home, you know something's not quite right under the streets you're driving on.

"Something felt like it came up and hit my car and I'm looking in my rear view mirror to see if I could see what it was, and then something else just looked like it blew up. I don't know. It was an explosion back there," explains Larry Hauger who needed a new tire after a manhole put a hole in his.

It happened on the 14 hundred block of 25th Street South. The manhole cover blew off twice in just two days.

"It's actually cable that we're targeting for replacement so we had an outage one day, made the repair, and another piece of that cable went the next day. So we'll be replacing that whole stretch of cable," says Xcel Energies North Dakota Principle Manager Mark Nisbet.

Nisbet says a fault or short is what is being blamed for the blow out. As much as 24 thousand volts of electricity forced the manhole cover off.

"We have some of our equipment loaded pretty heavy right now because we're working on the substation here. We have to pick up from a different sub so it might have been a fairly heavy load on it," says Nisbet.

Fortunately no one was injured when the 100 plus pound man hole cover blew it's lid. Xcel Energy says just four feet below the surface a cable shorted and all that power had to go somewhere. "The electricity tries to go to ground so then it escapes from it's normal path and that's when we had the incidents," says Nisbet.

Instances like this according to Xcel are overly rare. In fact in Nisbet's career at the company it's very rare, "yes it happened before but it's probably 20 years ago the last time we saw one."

Xcel Energy says to expect fewer and shorter power outages in the future. Over the next three years major upgrades will be taking place across our region All in an attempt to get our power grid fixed in a more timely fashion.

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