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Power companies apply lessons learned to latest derecho

HIWAATHA, Iowa (KCRG) – Robert Murphy lives in Hiawatha and was lucky to hit a Dereco in Iowa on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t really notice much, a little wind, but it wasn’t too bad,” Murphy said. “I haven’t lost power. My son lives in two blocks here. He’s lost power.”

About 18,000 electricity customers were affected in Iowa, according to Melissa McCarville, a spokeswoman for Elliott.

“The impact at any one time was about 7,500 maximum,” McCarville said. “Since the storms moved slowly from the west to the east, we’ve recovered customers in the west because of the storms in the east.”

At the peak of Tuesday night’s storm, about 15,800 of their Iowa customers were without power, according to Geoff Greenwood of MidAmerican Energy Company. That’s up from a total of 713,409 customers in Iowa.

We asked Greenwood if MidAmerican had changed its storm response from Dereco in 2020.

“We’ve improved some of the hardening of our system,” Greenwood said. “We’ve installed more monitoring equipment, wireless monitoring equipment that helps us identify where a disturbance might occur, wireless switching capabilities that allow us to do something from the control room without sending crews there.”

Greenwood added, “We’ve got storm trailers that we’ve added where line crews have all the parts they need, or often need, that we roll in the scene instead of waiting for them to return, get parts. And go back to where they were. Something needs to be fixed. “

Greenwood added that the response to a storm is not just what happens at night. It involves premature planning and maintenance.

“When there is no storm, that is the best time to recognize the ‘boy’, that tree looks very close to that line. We really need to trim it because it could come down to a power line. ‘

Although Greenwood says MidAmerican 2020 has learned from Dereco, he added, “We learn from every thunderstorm and every weather event, be it thunderstorms, blizzards, snowstorms, floods. We learn new lessons from each and every storm. “

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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