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After Xcel Energy promised better service, Fargo's lights went out again

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In the morning Xcel Energy assured North Dakota regulators it was taking steps to improve service in the Fargo area following five power outages in two weeks.

In the afternoon there was a sixth one.

At a hearing in Bismarck an Xcel manager told the North Dakota Public Service Commission the recent outages had causes ranging from old power lines and cables to trees that need trimming to a lightning strike to a squirrel, the Fargo Forum reports.

According to the Associated Press Mark Nisbet, the North Dakota manager for Xcel, told the commission the company is speeding up its schedule for replacing underground cables near downtown Fargo as part of its response to the issue.

Outages cost Xcel money

Xcel Energy's agreement with North Dakota includes a "reliability performance plan." If a customer has more than three outages in a year that are all at least five minutes long, the utility will credit their account $50.

This month Xcel is spending $284,000 compensating customers for 2015 outages, the Forum says, which is more than 10 times what they spent the year before.

Under the agreement, Xcel would qualify for a bonus if it kept outages below a certain threshold. But the AP says that has not happened since the program was started in 2012.

Thursday outage affected Garth Brooks ticketing

Following Xcel's morning assurances in Bismarck there was an afternoon outage in Fargo – actually a cluster of outages – affecting about 7,000 customers Valley News Live reported.

Thursday's loss of power silenced air conditioners on a day when the temperature reached 90 degrees in Fargo. It also struck the Fargodome just as mobile tickets to the big Garth Brooks concert were being delivered through cyberspace, Valley News reported.

The Dome's general manager told Forum News Service mobile tickets were sent out again after power was restored and fans who received two emails should use the second one as their ticket.

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