March 14 outage update
Flooding as the result of culverts jammed by ice caused an outage leaving approximately 225 St. Croix Electric Cooperative members without electricity in the morning hours of Thursday, March 14. Switchgear (the combination of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment) was underwater and arcing inside a cabinet located near the intersection of Tower and Gilbert Roads near Hudson. Difficulty in draining water around the equipment – even after a skid steer arrived on scene – led to the need to bypass the switchgear and reroute the feeds to affected members. Members began seeing their power restored beginning just before 8 a.m., with all but two accounts back on by 10:45 a.m.
“There will be some form of planned outage later this spring to make the permanent repairs and get the feeds back to normal,” Operations Manager Rob Dooley said. “This is specific to this style of switch which has open parts internally.”
Standard transformers and junction boxes – the “big green boxes” found in your yard – are sealed and, even if submerged, do not pose a danger as long as members stay away from them to allow the water to recede.
“The best thing you can do is make sure your culverts are open to allow the water to flow and go down quicker,” Rob says. “You do not need to report transformers underwater as long as you are not experiencing interruption in service.”
Due to heavy rain, frozen ground and amount of snow in the area, many culverts are blocked and there is nowhere for the water to go.
“I had the privilege of going out in the field that morning to watch some of our crews in action,” CEO Brian Zelenak said. “They did a great job in the rain and weather. “Thank you to our members for their patience while crews worked to restore power.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience many members experienced due to the outage. St Croix Electric Cooperative and its employees take great pride in both the reliability the quality of service we provide our members. While we work hard to minimize the frequency and duration of outages, they are going to happen from time to time and, as with this one, are sometimes beyond our control.”