Alliant Energy anticipates power to be restored to all its customers in the Cedar Rapids area in five to seven days, spokesman Mike Wagner said Thursday afternoon, as the vast majority of Linn County residents remained without electricity.
About 75 percent of customers of all electric utilities in Linn County were without power late Thursday, according to poweroutage.us.
Alliant Energy, the largest, still had 72,914 customers without power in the county and Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative had more than 10,000 without power as of Thursday afternoon.
Johnson County, which suffered less damage than Linn County, still had more than 16 percent of residents without power. That included 7,864 MidAmerican Energy customers, 2,912 Linn County REC customers and 1,586 Alliant customers.
Wagner told The Gazette there are “several days worth of work” before Alliant can fully restore power in the Cedar Rapids area.
Summer heat adds to already difficult conditions without power. Temperatures are expected to be in the 80s for much of next week in Cedar Rapids, with a possible storm Saturday.
Alliant is not the only utility experiencing challenges restoring power.
Linn County REC spokeswoman Carrie Langridge said the utility has never experienced storm damage as devastating as Monday’s derecho. More than 200 poles and 75 miles of lines saw damage.
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“It’s everywhere,” Langridge said. “It’s not one localized section. The whole system is out.”
Langridge hopes to have an estimate by Friday or Saturday for when power to all the utility’s customers will be restored.
“There’s just too many outside factors yet to give people a reliable ETA,” Langridge said. “We don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver.”
ITC Midwest maintains much of the transmission infrastructure for Alliant and other utilities. ITC Midwest spokesman Rod Pritchard said Monday’s derecho caused the worst damage to transmission lines in the company’s history. The storm knocked out almost a fifth of the company’s transmission lines, including 349 miles of high-voltage lines in Linn County. No other county had more than 103 miles out of service.
“Due to the severity of the storm and magnitude of the storm, repairs are going to take some time,” Pritchard said. “We are committed to rebuilding the transmission system as quickly and as safely as possible.”
In the meantime, utilities have asked customers to stay away from downed power lines, noting the risk of life-threatening injuries or further delays in restoring the electric grid.
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