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Power outage causes hiccups for Baxter businesses

Crow Wing Power was able to reroute its power and get the lights back on for its customers in about an hour while Minnesota Power crews worked on the issue.

081621.N.BD.PowerOutage
About 2,000 Crow Wing Power customers, mostly in the Baxter area, lost power Saturday, Aug. 14, when a transmission stopped working. Businesses like Target, Applebee's and Jack Pine Brewery were among those without power for a time. Contributed
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About 2,000 Crow Wing Power customers in the Baxter area lost power for about an hour Saturday, Aug. 14, including Crow Wing Power itself, but the exact cause of the outage is not clear.

Backup generators at Target kicked on quickly enough when the lights went out about 2 p.m., while customers at restaurants like Applebee’s had to pay by either check or cash, as credit card readers were down.

Staff and customers at Jack Pine Brewery made the best of the snafu, even though they couldn’t close out tabs or pay with credit cards for a time. Luckily, though, the registers stayed alive long enough to still be able to handle transactions, Jake Bakkila, a shift lead at Jack Pine, said during a phone interview Sunday. One register was down to about 30 minutes of battery life by the time the power came back on.

“Luckily, the people that had the tabs open, they were all still here by the time the power came back on, so they could close their tabs,” Bakkila said, noting one customer who did not have cash had to be turned away but came back after the power returned.

“Honestly, it was kind of fun. It was a unique little experience, and all the customers were pretty cool about it,” he said. “... For the most part, I think people actually kind of had fun with it.”

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Crow Wing Power Public Relations Manager Char Kinzer said Sunday a Minnesota Power transmission line failed, leading to the outage, but the reason why is still unknown.

“Those are the 100-foot tall transmission lines, and they feed our substations. So we take it from there and distribute the power,” Kinzer said. “They ran their lines, and they couldn’t find anything, so what they told us tonight was that they don’t know what caused it.”

Even something as small as a bird’s nest touching a transmission line, Kinzer said, can cause it not to work temporarily, as the lines have automatic reclosers, meaning they will shut off if something touches it to avoid fire danger. Crews, however, did not find any objects in the immediate vicinity of the transmission line.

Crow Wing Power was able to reroute its power and get the lights back on for its customers in about an hour while Minnesota Power crews worked on the issue.

“It was still very unusual on a hot day that something big like that would happen,” Kinzer said. “But luckily we haven’t had storms (this year), and people were very nice about it. I think that it’s just an unusual thing that happened.”

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THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .
Related Topics: MINNESOTA POWER
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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