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Power outages plague lakes area during Independence Day celebrations

Residents in Breezy Point, Baxter and throughout the Brainerd lakes area were subject to power outages on July 4/5. Photo illustration / Samuel King Jr.

Whether it's rain-soaked tree limbs or lightning strikes, crews for Crow Wing Power have been contending with sporadic outages across the Brainerd lakes area—particularly in Baxter and Breezy Point.

Char Kinzer, public relations manager at Crow Wing Power, said storm-related issues caused hiccups to occur in the power grid. However, when two substations failed at different points Wednesday, July 4, and Thursday, July 5, its effects were substantial for area residents. Crews were able to address the outages and restore power between 4-6 a.m. Wednesday and by 4 p.m. Thursday respectively.

"The heavy rains probably caused a lot of the damage yesterday (July 4) because there were a lot of rain-soaked limbs coming despite the fact I didn't notice much wind," Kinzer told the Dispatch during an interview Thursday. "And a substation went out, so Baxter was out right away in the morning (of the Fourth). If something happens to a substation, you're going to see big numbers."

Those big numbers came out to be about 1,100 people in Baxter alone, not counting a number of smaller, more sporadic outages across the area that may have related causes.

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, another substation went down, leaving 677 people without power in the Breezy Point area. Kinzer said this shutdown was most likely caused by a delayed outage—or, when a lightning strike overloads a system and it doesn't fail for hours or even days after the initial incident. Like the Baxter outage, Kinzer pointed to a round of storms that rolled through the Brainerd lakes area in recent days.

"Underground cable takes a long time for crews to pare it down where it's at," Kinzer said. "Underground cable—it's more pleasant for people, but it takes longer. That cable in that area is old. We've laid new cable and we're ready to energize it, but we have to fix this one first."

The weather forecast calls for a quiet couple of days with a slight chance of thunderstorms returning Saturday night and showers and thunderstorms likely by Sunday night.

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