Beginning December 13, central Minnesota was predicted to get freezing rain and inches of heavy snow. As the snow continued to fall, trees began to bow, lean, and break. Broken poles and downed powerlines put safety at risk for those nearby. Early morning on Thursday, December 15, outage calls poured in finding approximately 7,000 MLEC members without power. Local schools and many businesses closed due to the severe weather. Our line crews and Operations team sprang into action but knew it was going to be a marathon rather than a sprint. MLEC Line Superintendent, Cory Brix, observed that “the crews would get one section of line restored only to have the heavy snow covered trees take down another section.” It was two steps forward and one step back. They worked at full capacity for days only stopping for mandatory rest periods. Lineworkers can only work so many hours in a row due to the dangers of their job. Each task requires laser focus and problem-solving to ensure the safety of themselves and their fellow co-workers.
On Friday, December 16, additional crews from Beltrami Electric Cooperative, PKM Electric Cooperative, Lake States Construction, and Legacy Power joined to speed up restoration. The cooperative spirit shown bright as these extra crews offered their time, equipment, and expertise to help us get the job done. Crews were scattered across our entire service territory to get members restored as quickly as possible.
MLEC received many thank yous and kind words because our members know that mother nature can be unpredictable and harsh. Safety of our staff and members is our number one priority at all times, and we are proud to say that power was restored system-wide without any safety incidents.
Winter storm preparedness is extremely important for situations like this. This is a reminder for all to have supplies stored and an alternate heat source ready for an emergency. Generators are a great way to combat extended outages, make sure to educate yourself on how to use them safely.
We want to thank you for your patience and cooperation as we worked to restore power. As your electric cooperative, we are dedicated to serving you.
MLEC is a not-for-profit, electric distribution cooperative owned by the members we serve. We provide service to over 13,000 members in parts of Aitkin, Crow Wing, and Mille Lacs counties. Our headquarters is located at 36559 US Highway 169, one mile east of Aitkin, MN.