Xcel Energy offers winter storm safety tips


As forecasts indicate that parts of Minnesota could be hit with a major winter storm, Xcel Energy is preparing staff and equipment to deal with potential electric outages.

According to the National Weather Service, the first round of snow arrives later Monday afternoon and persists through Tuesday. Heaviest snow will fall Monday night from south central Minnesota up toward Eau Claire, where 6-10 inches of snow are expected. Tuesday, light snow will move out of western and across central Minnesota toward northwest Wisconsin. An additional 2-4 inches of snow is possible. The Twin Cities could get a total of 6-8 inches of snow.

Xcel Energy plans for storm issues and restoration with preparation done in advance. Crews are pre-staged at one of seven metro area service centers, and at strategically located service centers throughout Greater Minnesota. Each location is stocked with equipment that crews need to quickly and safely restore electric service.

During severe weather, and throughout the winter, Xcel Energy encourages customers to stay informed and to be safe when it comes to natural gas and electric service.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep informed. Snow and ice can cause electrical outages, and it’s important for customers to know if they are affected. Customers can sign up for outage notifications through the My Account feature at XcelEnergy.com. Additionally, the website hosts an outage map that displays information on the number of customers out and anticipated time to restoration.
  • Keep gas meters clear. Clearing snow and ice from natural gas meters is key to avoiding the potential for dangerous natural gas buildup indoors due to vents becoming sealed when covered in ice and snow melt drip on it during the day and refreeze at night. Xcel Energy strongly recommends keeping the entire meter assembly clear of snow and ice.

Gently remove snow or ice from the meter, associated piping and the roofline above the meter. Check often to ensure melting snow isn’t dripping on the meter from the roof or nearby trees. Use a shovel around a meter to move snow away; avoid using your snowblower near a meter.

  • Heating safety. Xcel Energy encourages homeowners to take advantage of rebates and incentives to install energy efficient furnaces, air conditioners, windows and insulation. If you chose to use a space heater, take care to ensure safety as more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year in the United States, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

When using a space heater, make sure the heater has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory, and read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels. Additionally, inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs and connections; don’t use it if they are frayed, worn or damaged. Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when leaving a room and don’t go to sleep with a space heater on.