Madelia power outage limited to 30 minutes, others not as fortunate

Last Wednesday evening we experienced the longest outage and generation in over 33 years. The outage was a due to a spring storm that brought blizzard conditions to a widespread area of southern Minnesota, creating an extreme situation of not having power available without generating our own.
The conditions were perfect to create major havoc with transmission lines that were brought down by winds and ice build up that created a phenomenon referred to as “galloping lines.” Galloping power lines may sound ridiculous, but they really do occur and can be very dangerous. The lines can bounce and buck enough to hit another line, damage themselves enough to cause a power outage, or even snap the poles and create wide spread outages.
At approximately 11:15 p.m. on the night of Wednesday, April 10, Madelia Municipal Light and Power Generation Operator Darren Gifferson was first alerted to the situation. Shortly thereafter, Line Foreman Les Sem was notified that the line shop was without power. By 11:20 p.m. all employees were notified and the process of generating power for the City of Madelia began at approximately 11:45 p.m., leaving the community without power for about 30 minutes.
This began one of the longest generation runs in recent history. By about 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, it had been identified that our transmission line had been repaired and was stable enough to carry the load. Soon thereafter there were blinks in the power, which can be detrimental to our residents and businesses, so it was determined that the transmission system was not stable enough to carry us due to the continued high winds and weather issues. Therefore, MMLP was generating again by approximately 10:10 a.m. Thursday and continued until around 4:45 p.m.
At that time, we thought the winds had subsided enough to utilize grid power – as did everyone else around the area – which created non-useable power because the transmission lines became overwhelmed and were not ready for the loads of other power plants. We began the third and final generation shortly after 6 p.m. and continued until about 7:15 p.m.
Although as of Friday morning, I had identified approximately 450,000 customers still without power elsewhere in Southern Minnesota, Madelia was only without power for roughly 30 minutes total. Our employees put in more than 34 hours in a 40-hour period, working tirelessly together to keep two of these engines pumping power through the plant and to our customers.
This is the purpose of having a municipal power plant with the capabilities of carrying this town from a “black plant start” for a total of about 17 hours … keeping the lights on, the CPAPs (continuous positive airway pressure machines) operating, and the refrigerators and furnaces operational when so many around us were without these necessities for days.
The MMLP employees performed flawlessly. Their knowledge and ability to work together as a team shined.
Another testament to Madelia Strong!

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