Grand Rapids, MN – (March 30, 2020) More than 8,300 cooperative members have had their electric service restored as Lake Country Power crews continue making progress with outage repair work after this spring’s first heavy, wet snowstorm. At the height, more than 9,400 co-op members were affected.
A few line crews worked through the overnight hours and were able to reduce the number of members being out from approximately 5,400 at 10 p.m., to less than 1,300 members affected early Monday morning.
Many members in the Big Sandy Lake area near McGregor were energized around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night following a repair to the Great River Energy transmission line. Crews can now proceed with repair work on the distribution lines to individual members still experiencing service outages.
Lake States Construction is assisting by repairing nearly 14 broken poles in the Wright and Tamarack areas. All told, the storm caused 22 broken poles, many downed lines and slippery driving conditions with up to seven inches of heavy, wet snow.
Counties with the greatest number of members affected include Aitkin, St. Louis and Carlton. Lake Country Power anticipates restoring all remaining outages today, March 30 with a rested workforce making headway in daylight hours.
“Lake Country Power is always prepared and ready to respond, especially in times when the weather is forecasted to take a turn for the worse,” said Derek Howe, chief operating officer. “Our line crews excel in times like these. Every available lineman came into work and together they restored over 8,000 outages in a 24-hour period.”
Howe added, “As everyone is staying home to flatten the curve, we too are taking precautionary measures to keep our line crews safe and healthy from COVID-19.”
Lake Country Power is taking these mitigation steps:
- The same two-man crews are working together at all times while also using the same trucks to avoid cross-contamination.
- When possible, the two-man crews are separated even further by driving different trucks individually.
- Crews are assigned to work separate substations for social distancing, and once at the job site, they continue to use social distancing from one another and co-op members.
- Crews are using rubber gloves. They also use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces, including gas pumps.
- Warehouse personnel set equipment outside the building for line crews to pick up for their job assignments.
- Crews are going as far as to isolate themselves from family when family members have medical needs that could expose the linemen to a quarantine situation.
- Crews are making personal sacrifices to cancel trips, vacations, etc., to make sure they are available to work on members’ behalf.
Lake Country Power, www.lakecountrypower.coop, is a Touchstone Energy® cooperative serving parts of eight counties in northeastern Minnesota. The rural electric cooperative provides services to nearly 43,000 members and has offices located in Cohasset, Kettle River, and Mountain Iron.