Madisonians left in the dark after power surge zaps their appliances
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Many people in a Madison neighborhood are blaming a power surge for damage to their appliances and personal items.
Residents in the Sunset Village neighborhood contacted NBC15 News hoping for answers and possible reimbursement from Madison Gas & Electric, which services the westside neighborhood.
The neighborhood is located near Hilldale Shopping Center and is bordered by University Avenue, North Midvale Boulevard, Mineral Point Road, and North Franklin Avenue, near Hoyt Park.
The neighbors say the surge happened Friday evening. They described hearing loud noises and seeing sparks.
MGE’s communications staff said Saturday the power outage happened when a vehicle crashed into an electrical pole on the 3200 block of Monroe Street. About 2,000 customers were impacted.
People in the surrounding areas experienced damage to multiple appliances leaving them to pay thousands of dollars for replacements.
Those affected are calling Friday’s occurrence a power surge which is defined as an unexpected, temporary increase in the current or voltage of an electrical circuit. MGE says this is a power outage. A power outage is when electrical power goes out--planned or unexpected, it can last for days or longer.
On Monday, MGE said they are still examining the extent of the damage to its equipment and the impacts on the distribution system due to the crash that happened, which caused the “outage and voltage variation.”
“Under state law (PSC 113.0703), MGE is not responsible for household equipment damaged during an outage that’s beyond our control, which, in this case, resulted from the vehicle crash into MGE infrastructure. Customers are encouraged to contact their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance company to determine if their losses are covered under their policy. We will help customers who need documentation from MGE to verify the incident occurred for the purpose of their insurance claims.”
Madison resident Liz Aldag said the surge damaged multiple appliances, including her furnace, refrigerator and microwave. It also impacted her livelihood as the Madison artist. She now needs to replace the kiln she used in her at-home studio and business. Aldag says she talked with MGE twice on Monday.
“I am a potter, a small batch ceramic artist. I fire all my work in here twice. This piece of equipment is about $5,000 to get new with a digital controller and venting system,” Aldag said.
A kiln is what she uses to make her customized pieces for customers. The damage to her equipment will impact her livelihood.
“I had someone out today inspecting it and it is completely fried. To order a new kiln like this they are back ordered until like three months,” Aldag said. “I am not sure what I am going to do for work in three months.”
Ben Brubaker says his family is also looking to recoup thousands of dollars in damage. He is now looking to replace a refrigerator, under-counter drawer fridge and freezer, humidifier, microwave and an amp/receiver. The family also lost a couple hundred dollars worth of food.
“We just went grocery shopping the day before--Friday night and a few hours later that happened,” Brubaker said.
He says this was an unusual surge and thinks MGE should give some guidance.
“I guess I am still trying to discover what the answer is here, but it does feel like there still has to be some responsibility on their part,” Brubaker said. “We have all the protections in place in terms of a nice circuit board and circuit breakers.”
A spokesperson for MGE said they are still examining the extent of the damage to its equipment and the impacts on the distribution system due to the crash that happened, which caused the “outage and voltage variation.”
MGE said they are not legally responsible for damage to household items that are beyond the company’s control. Customers were asked to reach out to their homeowners’ insurance provider to get coverage for the lost items.
Customers can reach out to MGE if insurance providers ask for documentation, which MGE said it would review and then respond to the customer.
NBC15 has received several calls and emails from people impacted. Those affected can email email@example.com.
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