Xcel sends Wisconsin, Minnesota employees to New York - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Xcel sends Wisconsin, Minnesota employees to New York

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Superstorm Sandy disappeared two weeks ago, but it is far from a distant memory. More than 70,000 are still without power. Today Xcel energy sent 25 employees, including seven from Wisconsin, to New York.

Weeks after Superstorm Sandy rocked the east coast, the midwest is sending in more reinforcements.

"This is an opportunity for us individually and as a company to get out there and see if we can lend some aid," said Xcel Energy Master Technician Geoff Groh.

25 Xcel employees from Wisconsin and Minnesota left Eau Claire for New York Monday.

"What we'll be doing is basically checking the metering, and checking the regulations to the house. Once that is proofed out and everything is safe, we'll go light the pilot lights and they'll be back in service," Groh said.

In a disaster like this, utilities can reach out to other power companies for help.

"This is pretty unique as far as going out east. In my career, we've only been out of state once, and we've never been with another utility," said Groh.

The potential for explosions with natural gas make it a much different job than a typical outage.

"Restoring electricity, you can do on a broad-base scale. If you turn the lights on, either it's on or it's off. With natural gas, we have to do it on an individual basis, because each customer is served by a specific set of equipment that we have to check out," Groh said.

Xcel energy doesn't know how many homes and businesses will need help. The crews could be gone for two weeks.

"We're going to be gone over the holidays, and that of course is an issue. But I talked this over with my family, and they're very supportive of it," Groh said.

Since sandy hit, Xcel has sent 230 employees to the east coast.

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