Xcel energy is investing $1.8 million to reduce the amount of time people in the northeast panhandle are without power.
In the most recent ice storm, residents in Lipscomb County were without power the longest. This is due to inefficiencies of the infrastructure in place when Xcel purchased it more than 20 years ago.
The four major communities in Lipscomb County are connected to one power source via a 73 mile long power system. Therefore, if the line is damaged near the power source the rest of the cities lose power.
This makes repairing damages a slow and arduous process.
"We're not going to be able to prevent things like the ice storm but if we had another source of power we could have targeted our restorations efforts better," said Xcel Spokesperson Wes Reeves. "The way it turned out we had to start at one end and just build to the other end."
The $1.8 million investment will largely be spent on adding a substation south of Follett. This will bring an additional source of power, which in turn will improve restoration times in area cities.
"It's pretty elementary in its concept. You just need more than one power source and if something goes wrong you can back feed the system," said Reeves.
The majority of the cost will be spent on adding the substation. Xcel also plans to add more switching points along the line to be able to isolate certain sections.
This project is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2018.