We Energies: Power restoration taking longer than normal because of the extensive damage

SOUTHEASTERN WISCONSIN (WITI) -- We Energies crews have restored service to more than 108,000 customers since powerful storms rocked southeastern Wisconsin since Monday evening, June 30th. The number of customers that were impacted by the storm was more than 120,000.

As of late Tuesday evening, July 1st about 12,000 customers are without power, mostly in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. Absent additional severe weather, these are the current estimates for restoration:

    As crews work specific outages in these communities, they will update the restoration estimate for the specific customers affected.

    This information can be obtained through We Energies' automated system by calling 800-662-4797.

    In addition to crews from southeastern Wisconsin and the Fox Valley, We Energies has help from contractor personnel and crews from Madison Gas and Electric, Wisconsin Public Service and Xcel Energy. A total of approximately 400 workers have been in the field working on the restoration effort.

    We Energies officials say this is the worst storm to impact the electric distribution system in almost a decade, with widespread damage to poles and wires, much of it caused by trees and branches toppled or snapped by high winds.

    Based on current information, this storm caused the fourth-most outages of any storm in We Energies' history.

    Some customers were unable to report their outages due to some technical issues with We Energies' automated phone system and extraordinarily high volume of calls to the system Monday night.

    We Energies says it is believed the issue has since been resolved.

    We Energies says: "We appreciate the patience and understanding of all of our customers who lost their service and especially those who remain without power."

    Repairing damage

    We Energies says restoration is taking longer than normal because of the extensive damage – hundreds of downed electric wires, broken poles and tree-related problems.

    Typically, a pole that is knocked down or broken can be replaced in an hour or two and the wires restrung in two or three hours – if the location is easily accessible.

    In places with more difficult access, the process can take twice as long.

    Another factor is how many wires are on a pole.

    More wires mean more work and more time.

    Sometimes, we cannot restore service because of damage to the service mast on a home or business. An electrician needs to replace or repair that equipment before We Energies crews can reconnect.Prioritization

    When We Energies gets numerous outages at the same time as in this storm recovery effort, We Energies prioritizes their response.

    First, We Energies addresses situations that are life-threatening or hazardous, such as a power line on a street.

    After these situations are addressed, We Energies then makes equipment repairs that are causing outages to the greatest number of customers.

    First come transmission lines, then substations, then main distribution lines, then secondary lines to neighborhoods and finally service lines to individual homes and businesses.