The manager of one of the Rural Electric Cooperatives hit by Monday’s storm says restoration of power has been complicated because of the wide path of destruction and because every link in the transmission system has been heavily damaged.
“The nature of our business is we try to prepare and be prepared. The scope of this storm has overwhelmed everyone,” said Jim Kidd, general manager of Consumers Energy based in Marshalltown. “You know, summer storms come through and are usually localized to a small area. Even ice storms are localized to a small area. This took a huge swath. We are hurting all over.”
According to the Iowa Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives outage map, about two-thirds of Consumers Energy customers remain without power.
“We have 7500 meters spread out over five counties,” Kidd said during a Radio Iowa interview. “We had 5700 of those off at the start of the storm. We are not getting them on in great leaps because the substations are coming on very slowly.”
Power generating facilities send electricity out on high-voltage transmission lines to substations. Kidd said that high-voltage transmission grid seems to have taken a significant hit, which delays getting substations back online.
“We are working with what we have,” Kidd said. “We expect that some of our substations won’t be back on for we don’t know how long, possibly days yet.”
From the substation, electric power is sent to a transformer which converts the power to the voltage you use inside your home. The final trip for the electricity is on power lines from a transformer to a customer’s home or business.
“We had a lot of trees down in this storm. It’s taken a lot of things down. It’s broken a lot of people’s services to their homes. It’s broken a lot of our poles. It’s broken a lot of transmission poles,” Kidd said. “The thing we’re trying to do right now is get everything put back up in a safe manner as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
More than 30,000 Rural Electric Cooperative customers in 27 counties still do not have power. The largest group is in Linn County, where more than 12,194 customers of three Rural Electric Coops are without electricity.