NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodDe Pere


Widespread power outages cause businesses to close temporarily

Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 19:15:15-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) says new power outage reports continued to come in throughout Wednesday.

  • A coffee shop in De Pere and a winery in Greenleaf were among the businesses forced to close for all or part of Wednesday because of outages.
  • WPS said it received more than 800 reports of issues with utility poles and power lines during this storm, as of 1 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Video shows a WPS spokesperson explaining the outage response, and the two businesses explaining the impact.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Winter weather causing power outages around northeast wisconsin. Crews, still hard at work. We have the latest from Wisconsin Public Service.

For this year and this winter into the spring, we have not had a storm like this so far.

WPS says its crews are working 16-hour shifts to address outages.

"We've had more than 800 reports of issues with utility poles, downed power lines, trees falling onto our electric equipment," spokesperson Matt Cullen said. "Every one of those particular situations is one that our crews has to go address."

Outage numbers continue to rise throughout Wednesday — from more than 50,000 to more than 70,000 WPS customers affected.

"Our crews are addressing those new outages as they've continued to work on the outages that were reported earlier on in this storm," Cullen said.

When determining where to respond, WPS says it prioritizes safety hazards — like downed power lines — then government buildings and hospitals, then areas with a high volume of outage reports.

Some small businesses in my neighborhood of De Pere were forced to close temporarily because of an outage — like Exchange coffee shop.

"Half of the lights were off," shift lead Joshua Frischkorn said. "We have lights in the ceiling. Those were all off. We didn't have the barista machine, we didn't have the sanitizer working, half our air system was out."

Hours-long outages in rural areas ...

"It's dark, it's cold."

... left some places unable to open at all.

WineaLot Vineyards owner Miranda Demske says she closed up shop when there was no power all morning.

"It's not worth it," Demske said. "For safety's sake, of our customers, our employees, and myself, I'm like, 'nope,' we're closing."

The power came back on in the early afternoon, but road conditions and delivery delays left Demske with no choice but to call it a day.

She says the actual vineyards did not sustain snow damage, but some trees are going to need work.

"They might stand, but they're going to look pretty sad," Demske said.

She says she is considering getting a generator to avoid future issues.

"If the weather says no, then it says no," Demske said. "But that just means that tomorrow will be even bigger and better and ready to go."

WPS says to stay at least 25 feet away from any downed or damaged power lines — and to report those and all outages immediately.