Historic holiday wind damages power poles, substations - Great River Energy

Historic holiday wind damages power poles, substations

When severe winter weather threatens the power line system, Great River Energy’s system operators, line technicians and field services crews work quickly to prepare for what may come and restore the system when power lines or substations are damaged.

The night of Dec. 15, a rare December thunderstorm rolled in. It caused damage to Great River Energy’s transmission system, including 10 downed power poles.

More than 2,000 Federated Rural Electric Association members lost power in Jackson and Martin counties due to the strong winds causing outages.

System operations employees tracked the storm, anticipated outages and worked with crews to later identify and repair damages. Additional operators were called in to assist with the storm.

“We prepared all day for severe weather and activated our storm response plan early,” said Mark Peterson, Great River Energy’s manager of system operations.

Several substations experienced outages in the southern part of Great River Energy’s service area, affecting BENCO Electric Cooperative, Brown County Rural Electrical Association, Goodhue County Cooperative Electric Association, Redwood Electric Cooperative, South Central Electric Association and Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric. Line technicians from several of Great River Energy’s transmission service centers were dispatched to restore power to member-consumers. All service was restored by the early morning of Dec. 16.

Substation outages along with damage to poles took out power for South Central Electric Association members.

“A majority of these outages were caused by the straight-line winds,” Peterson said. “It was a great effort by many employees within the transmission division to quickly restore the system.”

Peterson added that while this was not widespread damage, the cooperative’s storm response plan is designed to help ensure resiliency.

“Had this event been more extreme or longer lasting, the plans and processes we have in place would have helped us restore power with as little downtime as possible,” Peterson said.

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