IOWA DERECHO 2020

Alliant Energy again vows 'majority' of Cedar Rapids customers will have power back by Tuesday

More than 40,000 in the city still without power after Iowa derecho

Alliant Energy utility crews work on power lines Thursday in the 300 block of Forest Drive SE in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abe
Alliant Energy utility crews work on power lines Thursday in the 300 block of Forest Drive SE in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — An Alliant Energy official vowed again Saturday that the company will restore a “majority” of customers’ power by Tuesday as about 44,000 of its Cedar Rapids customers remained without power after Monday’s destructive derecho.

Joel Schmidt, Alliant’s vice president of business development, declined to predict whether the number of those with no power for eight days after the storm devastated Cedar Rapids would be in the hundreds or potentially thousands.

But more than 60 percent of the utility’s affected customers have their power back, he said, and crews are “110 percent” committed to continue working until all customers have power again.

“We have a steadfast focus upon achieving that goal,” Schmidt said. “As you know, this storm is unlike anything seen before, and it hit without much warning. The damage and destruction are widespread, but we are making progress and we will continue working day and night until services are fully restored.”

Rod Pritchard, spokesman for ITC Midwest, which maintains transmission lines for Alliant and other utilities, said the company has repaired 768 of the 1,215 miles of lines initially out of service — 350 miles of which he said were in Linn County.

“We are committed to getting the transmission back on as quickly and as safely as possible,” Pritchard said.

Businesses that provide essential services — like grocery stores and gas stations — and public facilities including City Hall, the police and fire departments, the Public Works facility, water plants and The Eastern Iowa Airport have their power back, Schmidt said.

Crews are replacing about 2,500 downed poles — typically eight months of work — with help from line crews across the United States, Schmidt said, and clearing paths to restore service with blocked trees takes time.

“Again, I want to recommit, by the end of Tuesday, the majority of customers in Cedar Rapids — in fact, the majority of customers across the state — will have power available to them,” Schmidt said.

Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative expects “a substantial increase in power restoration” in the next day or two days, the company said on its website, as more transmission lines energize its last seven substations.

About 17.5 percent of Linn County REC customers in the county did not have power late Saturday, and only about 2.5 percent of the cooperative’s customers in Johnson did not,

The cooperative said 95 linemen are working on restoration as eight electric cooperatives from Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri came to help with repairs.

Crews are replacing more than 200 damaged poles and more than 75 miles of power lines downed in the storm.

MidAmerican Energy said in a statement that it expects to fully restore power to Iowa City area customers by Sunday morning as more than 2,000 responders work to restore the company’s system. More than 1,100 Iowa City MidAmerican customers remained without power as of Saturday evening.

“As we are able to clear an area of outages, we are deploying crews to other areas where outages remain,” MidAmerican spokesman Geoff Greenwood said in the statement.

Comments: (319) 398-8494; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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