On Monday August 3rd, Hurricane Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs) made land fall on the southeast shore of the United States. By Tuesday evening, approximately 3.5 million customers had lost power on the east coast of the US and up into Canada, racing this distance in just 24 hours. Nine to twelve fatalities are attributed to the hurricane. Isaias caused the second largest power outage in New York City history.
Utilities along the east coast were overwhelmed and requested help in restoring power. In two waves, beginning on August 4th, ComEd sent over 250 people to assist. Those who answered the call included Crew Leaders and Overhead Electricians, Material Handlers, Fleet Mechanics, Construction Order Clerks, and management personnel from across the ComEd territory.
The first group was sent originally to Exelon Utility subsidiaries Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) and Pepco Holdings Inc where over 30,000 customers were out of power. As the numbers continued to mount and damages became clearer, the second group was identified and started east. En route, the groups were divided and rerouted to locations including Atlantic City Electric (ACE), Dayton Power & Light (DP&L), and Potomac Electric Power Co (Pepco), who alone, had almost 65,000 customers out of power.
Over the first six days the hard work of restoration brought the numbers of customers without power down to approximately 6500. The second wave of ComEd employees began to return home while the first wave remained to continue with the final restoration efforts.
As the first group returned home on August 10th, Mother Nature had decided she was not done.
Beginning in Iowa, a derecho of unprecedented size and strength tore across five states and destroyed property, crops and electric infrastructure as it went. Wind speeds were reportedly as high as 112 miles per hour leaving well over 1.2 million mid-western customers without electric power.
Those returning from mutual assistance and all hands within ComEd territory immediately went into restoration efforts across all regions.
At its darkest point, ComEd customer outages topped 800,000, with damages reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The employees returning from mutual assistance joined the all hands restoration work here at home. With huge efforts, over eighty-percent of the customers who were out of power were restored in the first twenty-four hours.
At the peak of the efforts there were nearly 2100 workers, in various capacities, restoring power across the territory. These numbers included all of ComEd’s line crews, contractors, wire watchers and all forms of support personnel. Stewards for Transmission Underground and Meter Readers, who were not fully engaged, are attempting to resolve those issues with the Company.
Four temporary stockyards were established to distribute poles, arms, wire, transformers and transmission equipment to workers.
By August 15th, customer outages were below 5,000. Within 24 hours those numbers were reduced to 350 with the remaining customer outages picked up on the 17th.
The efforts of all who participated in the power restoration over those 14 days were herculean, and the result of their labor, amazing.
INDUSTRY NEWS - DUANE ARNOLD CLOSES
Officials at the D uane Arnold Energy Center have decided to close the nuclear facility permanently after experiencing severe damage from the derecho that hit the Midwestern States. NextEra Energy Resources has made the decision not to restart the reactor.
Duane Arnold, just outside of Cedar Rapids and the only nuclear power plant in Iowa, was scheduled to be decommissioned October 30. Instead it will go into the process early.
The derecho caused extensive damage to the facility’s cooling towers. Replacing the cooling towers with fewer than three months until decommissioning was not feasible.
IBEW 204 represents more than one-hundred and fifty workers at the station along with fourteen hundred members in Iowa and Minnesota. Employees are taking early retirements, looking for other jobs within the company or staying at NextEra to manage the decommissioned site.