Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE Inc., this week received the Edision Electric Institute’s (EEI) Emergency Response Award for its response during an historic winter storm in December of 2022.
Presented to EEI member companies twice a year, the Emergency Response Awards recognize recovery and assistance efforts of electric companies following service disruptions caused by extreme weather or other natural events. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI’s summer Board of Directors and CEO meeting held in conjunction with EEI 2023.
On Dec. 14, 2022, a destructive winter storm hit Minnesota Power’s service area, dropping up to two feet of heavy, wet snow driven by strong winds. The weight of the snow and the high winds left behind a tangle of broken trees and limbs in many areas, complicating access to remote power lines that sustained damage.
About 14,800 customers were without power by the morning of Dec. 15, and Minnesota Power reported at least 100 wires down. Deep snow hampered travel to the affected areas and slowed the overall response. Crews working 16-hour days used snowmobiles and other tracked vehicles to patrol power lines where roads were not yet plowed.
After working through extremely challenging conditions — deep snow, ice, cold, snow-laden trees and unplowed roads — for five days, crews restored power to the last 200 Minnesota Power customers on the evening of Dec. 18.
“This was the worst winter storm Minnesota Power has ever faced in terms of the number of outages and reports of wires down,” said ALLETE Chair, President and CEO Bethany Owen. “I’m so proud of the incredible work and dedication of our lineworkers and our support teams, who powered through difficult conditions to safely restore power to our customers and communities.”
Minnesota Power enacted its emergency response plan Dec. 15, and the company stayed in close contact with emergency management teams from the affected counties and cities so they had the information they needed to keep their communities and residents safe.
“Ensuring the safety of our customers, communities and crews is our industry’s top priority. Safety is especially critical during severe storms and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and winter storms,” said EEI President and CEO Tom Kuhn. “I commend Minnesota Power’s commitment to restoring service for its customers safely and efficiently under challenging conditions following this winter storm. Minnesota Power and its storm response team are extremely deserving of this national recognition, and I am honored to present them with this well-earned
Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power have been recipients of the EEI Emergency Response Award for storm responses in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Many of these awards were for responding to calls for mutual assistance from other utilities after hurricanes or other major
natural disasters.EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Its members
provide electricity for more than 235 million Americans, and operate in all 50 states and the District
Minnesota Power provides electric service within a 26,000-square-mile area in northeasternMinnesota, supporting comfort, security and quality of life for 150,000 customers, 14 municipalities and some of the largest industrial customers in the United States. More information can be found at www.mnpower.com.