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IID completes restoration of electrical system damaged by storm

Imperial Irrigation District has completed restoration of the 2.5-mile span consisting of over 50 transmission and distribution poles on its 92kv K-Line and 13.5kV distribution circuit systems damaged during a microburst storm that occurred June 5.
Post Date:06/14/2020
Imperial Irrigation District has completed restoration of the 2.5-mile span consisting of over 50 transmission and distribution poles on its 92kv K-Line and 13.5kV distribution circuit systems damaged during a microburst storm that occurred June 5.

A total of 1,839 IID customers were affected when high winds knocked down poles and interrupted power service. The utility quickly responded by dispatching its own crews and brought in additional external contractors emergency response crews to make repairs and restore service to the rural area outside of Mecca, California. Despite the significant damage to its infrastructure, the district’s quick response restored power service to almost 1,800 customers within 90 minutes of the outage.

“Implementing an emergency response plan in a storm event always has challenges, but coordinating this type of effort in the midst of a pandemic adds another layer of complexity,” said Marilyn del Bosque Gilbert, manager of IID’s Energy Department. “I commend our employees, contractors and emergency response partners for their tireless effort, working around the clock to restore critical services. I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge the graciousness and patience of our customers during an uncustomary extended outage.”

When compared to neighboring electrical utilities, IID’s reliability and outage restoration are exemplary. The American Public Power Association recently recognized the district with its prestigious Reliable Public Power Provider designation at the Diamond Level, the highest achievement possible. The program recognizes utilities that demonstrate high proficiency in reliability, safety, workforce development, and system improvement. Contrary to the district’s reputable response times, approximately 17 residential customers were left without power for the majority of the week. To mitigate the delay, IID provided impacted residential customers with temporary generators until full restoration could be achieved.

The 13.5 kV circuit was restored as of 7:45 p.m. and the K-line restored by 11:18 p.m. on June 13. Crews continue to work to clean up the debris associated with the damage in the area.

“We regret that a small proportion of affected customers had to wait longer than desired for power to be restored,” said Gilbert. “The time it took to achieve full restoration fell a little short of the high standards of service we hold ourselves to. Now that the system is restored, our response to this event will be analyzed to identify opportunities for improvement, including the frequency and extent of communication with our customers. IID strives to be a utility our customers trust and respect.”

The IID Board of Directors adopted an emergency resolution on June 10 due to the severity of the windstorm damage. Although this temporary restoration effort returned service to customers as quickly as possible, additional permanent repairs are required on the 42-mile span of the K-line to ensure system integrity and to address the harsh environmental conditions.

IID will seek grant funds from the California Office of Emergency Services to assist with a resilient plan to prevent events like these from happening. Restoration costs are estimated to be in the tens of millions. Riverside County has an agenda for a proclamation of a local emergency for the county of Riverside on this matter.
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