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Xcel urges customers to prepare for storms

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As the Texas and New Mexico region approaches its peak storm season, Xcel Energy is reminding customers how to prepare for possible electricity outages.

Most outages are restored within a couple of hours, but extreme weather events such as the wind storm of March 13 in the Chaves County area can disrupt service for extended periods, a company news release indicates. Xcel recommends taking several steps now to be prepared.

• Have an evacuation plan in the event of long-term outages, especially if caring for disabled family members or small children.

• Stockpile nonperishable food items and bottled water.

• Check batteries in flashlights.

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• Never touch or move a downed power line. Always assume an electric line, even if on or near the ground, is energized and, therefore dangerous.

Storms also can present dangers to Xcel Energy crews, but they are prepared to deal with the worst types of storm damage and outage situations. The company indicates that it routinely stages employees and supplies in key locations ahead of storms when possible, and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in upgraded power systems to improve reliability even during severe storms and to provide more options to reroute power on an expanded network.

In the event of widespread outages, crews will prioritize efforts on large feeder lines to restore power to the largest numbers possible at once, a company release states. Then it will move to restore tap lines, transformers and individual service lines.

“Safety has to be the top priority, and once we’ve established a safe zone in which to operate, we can move very quickly to restore power,” said Brad Baldridge, director of customer and community relations for Xcel Energy in New Mexico and Texas.

The company also provides several ways for customers to communicate during power outages. These include outage maps on its website, xcelenergy.com, which also has a “My Account” feature that allows customers to report outages, provides information on electric usage and permits secure payments. Customers also can sign up for power restoration information by email, text or voice message. These same features are also included on the free Xcel Energy app that can be downloaded from Apple Store or Google Play.

Customers also can call the company at 1-800-895-1999.

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