Janesville73°

Some lose power for more than a day due to storm

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
December 11, 2009
— As of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Alliant Energy reported 288 electric customers in Rock County were still without power, down from 520 reported at 5 a.m.

That was a lot better than the 9,500 who were powerless on Wednesday morning.


But if you were living in Julie Backenkeller's house, the fact that most people had power restored was little consolation.


Backenkeller called the Gazette at about 1:15 p.m. Thursday as her patience with Alliant Energy wore thin.


Backenkeller said her house and others in her west-side Janesville neighborhood had been without power since 4 a.m. Wednesday.


Making matters worse were Alliant operators who said power would be restored soon, and then an automated call in the middle of the night Wednesday, saying power would be restored within two hours.


It wasn't.


If she had known it would take so long to get power back, she'd have bought a generator, Backenkeller said. The only other heat sources in her house were the range top and hot water heater, both gas powered.


Backenkeller said her father brought over a propane heater Thursday and kept her house at a still intolerable 54 degrees.


"Now, we're not worried so much about freezing as we are about carbon monoxide poisoning," Backenkeller said sardonically.


Alliant spokesman Steve Schultz said crews were working as quickly as they could.


"All I can say is, we've got all our crews out there working around clock, and I certainly sympathize with those people who have been out for a long stretch," Schultz said.


"We're working to get them restored as soon as we can and as safely as we can," he added.


Backenkeller, meanwhile, had planned to get a fireplace insert installed next month so she could burn wood to heat her home. She convinced her installer to move the install date up to immediately.


Backenkeller's electricity came on 2:40 p.m. Thursday, just as she was lighting her first wood fire. She turned off her furnace.


"It's warm already," she said. "I'm excited."



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