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Xcel sends crews to East Coast

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Xcel Energy on Wednesday, Oct. 31, sent 46 Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan employees and heavy equipment to assist in power restoration efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

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Linemen, fleet technicians, safety consultants and managers from Minnesota joined Wisconsin employees from Abbotsford, Eau Claire, Hayward, Hudson, La Crosse, Menomonie and Rice Lake and an employee from Ironwood, Mich., in Eau Claire.

The crews in more than 20 bucket trucks and other vehicles were led out of Eau Claire with a police escort.

"Our hearts go out to the millions affected by this destructive storm," said Mark Stoering, president and CEO of Northern States Power-Wisconsin. "Our crews have the skills and experience to tackle these types of situations safely and expertly, and we're honored to play a role in helping our neighbors - even if they live more than 1,000 miles away."

Crews will help American Electric Power rebuild electricity distribution systems in West Virginia, Kentucky and southern Ohio. The trip is approximately 1,200 miles one way. The deployment may last as long as two weeks.

Stoering noted that AEP made the request through a mutual aid network and specifically asked to work with Xcel Energy crews.

"This is a testament to our skilled employees, their professionalism and their focus on safety," he said. "We helped AEP this past summer following the wind storms in Ohio. Our crews worked to restore power in 100-plus degree weather. Now it appears that they will be dealing with 2-4 feet of snow and heavy damage - conditions they are very capable of addressing."

Utilities maintain mutual aid agreements and routinely assist each other when storms cause massive destruction resulting in widespread, lengthy power outages. The utility requesting aid reimburses the utility whose crews are sent to help. Xcel Energy sends crews after assessing its own situation and ensuring it has adequate resources to respond to routine and emergency power outages in its service territories.

Additional Xcel Energy crews also are being deployed to help on the East Coast from the company's Public Service Co. of Colorado and Southwestern Public Service Co., based in Denver and Amarillo, Tex., respectively.

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