Power fully restored

Power fully restored

Cresco, IA | Rushford, MN (4 p.m. April 13, 2019)— MiEnergy Cooperative is pleased to announce that all power outages related to Winter Storm Westley have been restored as of 2 p.m.

The four-day restoration event began Wednesday evening as the storm rolled west through MiEnergy’s service territory. The cooperative recorded over 5,000 electric service interruptions and 110 broken distribution poles. Four broken transmission poles led to seven substations without power.

Ice buildup on distribution lines, poles, crossarms and equipment combined with wind toppled electric lines.

MiEnergy responded by working around the clock on Wednesday, followed by 18-hour days on Thursday and Friday.

“Our lineworkers, operations department and administrative staff did an amazing job of managing the storm restoration and safely restoring electric power,” said President/CEO Brian Krambeer. “I’m very proud of our employees and the outstanding work they accomplished. It’s an incredible group of employees.”

Dairyland Power Cooperative, MiEnergy’s wholesale power provider, provided vital restoration efforts to replace the broken high-voltage transmission poles to bring back power to the substations. Transmission lines are the main arteries bringing power to MiEnergy’s substations, which allows the co-op to then deliver power to rural homes, farms and businesses on its distribution lines.

“We are equally grateful for all the support that our employees received from our membership. The positive comments and support truly energized our team through this disaster recovery,” added Krambeer. 

MiEnergy was fortunate that its electrical contractor Tjader & Highstrom was to begin work April 15 as part of the cooperative’s summer construction contract. What was supposed to be one crew, grew to three once the storm hit. The added assistance and equipment proved to be extremely valuable.  Equally beneficial was the delivery of distribution poles the week prior for summer construction projects, which provided the necessary inventory for the storm.   

This is one of the largest storms, if not the largest, we’ve had run through our service area in Minnesota. It’s extremely rare that the cooperative doesn’t get power restored within 24 hours and it had to make a difficult call for crews to come in the last two nights knowing members would be without electricity overnight. Keeping employees safe meant pulling crews in shortly after dark and regrouping early the next day.

“It is amazing to supervise employees that when you compliment them for going above and beyond, they are so humble and nonchalant about it. They respond back by saying, ‘no problem, just doing my job.’ This is after working an 18-hour plus day out in the field or in the office. They are truly an outstanding workforce that is willing to help out where ever and whenever it is necessary,” said Chad Chaffee, vice president of Minnesota system operations.

While power has been temporarily restored, it will take weeks to cleanup and transfer temporary fixes into permanent ones.  Broken power poles and line equipment in the rights-of-way will be cleaned up by the cooperative or its contractor. The co-op will also begin the process of working with county and state disaster recovery personnel to document and report damages to our infrastructure in hopes of state and federal declarations of disaster and recovery of costs. MiEnergy is all too familiar with both the state and federal disaster recovery process. The flood of 2007 in Minnesota and the ice storm of 2007 in Iowa were both state and federal disaster declarations.

If a member’s power does go out, they are encouraged to call 800-432-2285 to report the outage. Crews will continue to be available through the remainder of the weekend.  

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