Nebraska utility companies prepare for power outages caused by winter storm

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The first storm of 2023 is coming in cold, bringing power outages to thousands across the state.

Nebraska Public Power District is reporting around 2,000 customers without power near Ogallala.

NPPD spokesperson Grant Otten said though power lines may go down, they’re prepared for storms like this one.

Mark Kirby, the general manager for Butler Public Power District, said people should be prepared to deal with periods of time without power.

“What we will do is we’re going to ask all of our customers to be prepared because again, they don’t know where or how this storm is going to track,” Kirby said.

Otten said with the combination of heavy ice and wind, it’s likely that some power lines will be damaged.

“When you get tree branches that get really heavy and they get iced over, maybe some snow builds up on them, they could fall down, fall through power lines,” he said. “Or if you get a lot of ice built up on a power line, if it’s heavy enough, potentially that power line could break because of the combination of heavy ice, wind, whatever it may be if it’s causing too much stress on the line.”

However, until the storm passes, they won’t know which areas they need to focus their efforts on.

“Obviously, it’s hard to predict what the weather is going to do, so you could think that some area is going to get hit harder than another and then that doesn’t happen, so it’s really hard to say beforehand,” Otten said.

Both NPPD and BPPD are asking customers to report power outages to alert them of what areas need assistance.

Otten says NPPD would request that you be patient if you’re experiencing an outage, as crews may have trouble traveling on icy roads.

“The travel conditions may be dangerous, that may delay them from getting out to certain areas to do some work,” he said. “They’re trying to keep an eye on that. They’re trying to get the power back on as fast as possible, but also we’re not trying to put their life in danger.”

Otten and Kirby said anyone who sees a downed power line should avoid going near it.

“If it’s on the ground, it may look like it’s just laying there, but there’s a possibility it’s charged and even getting close to it, you could get electrocuted, so stay back,” Otten said.

Otten’s main piece of advice for anyone who might get caught in an area without power is to charge phones ahead of time and have basic necessities like food, water, a blanket and a radio available.

To report an outage, call your utility provider.

To report an outage to NPPD, visit their website.

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