As of Aug. 18, 10 p.m., Alliant Energy restored power to nearly 225,000 homes and businesses who lost electricity after a severe derecho struck central and eastern Iowa on Aug. 10. Power had been restored to more than 90% of customers in Fairfax, Hiawatha, and Newton. As of 7.30 p.m., Anamosa, Huxley, Perry, and Clinton were close to 100% power availability as crews continued making progress toward full restoration in all communities impacted by the derecho.
On Aug. 17, Terry Kouba, SVP at Alliant Energy and president of the Iowa Utility Co., said: "Our teams — and teams joining us from around the country — are working day and night to make power available to the majority of customers across the state by the end of the day on Aug. 18. That means by midnight on Aug. 18 evening, at least 90% of our customers who were impacted by the storm and high winds will have power available to them."
Following the storm, more than 240,000 Alliant Energy customers in Iowa were without service. Local Alliant Energy employees worked side-by-side with employees from other parts of Iowa and Wisconsin along with crews from across the country, ITC Midwest, and the National Guard to restore power to all affected customers.
Alliant Energy also partnered with utilities and suppliers from around the country to ensure crews on the ground had the replacement poles, miles of wire, and other technical equipment required to get the job done. Six truckloads of material arrived from Florida on the evening of Aug. 16.
"The storm created damage beyond what we've seen before and it could take several days before the majority of services are restored," Kouba had said after the storm. "For some customers, especially those living in more rural areas, it could be longer. We're asking for patience as our crews work around the clock. Their safety and the safety of our customers is our top priority."
The derecho caused significant damage and power outages, especially in the Ames, Marshalltown, and Cedar Rapids areas. Power lines were down and there were many trees to clear before restoration could begin. Kouba visited Marshalltown and Cedar Rapids on Aug. 11 to survey the damage.
Power was initially restored to essential services and facilities critical to public health and safety, such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire and police departments, and water systems. Then, crews were dispatched to repair lines that would return service to the largest number of customers in the least amount of time. Mutual assistance was provided by utility and tree crews from around the country to help speed recovery.
Working together, Alliant Energy and ITC Midwest achieved a key milestone on the night of Aug. 11, when the lights came back on in downtown Cedar Rapids. ITC Midwest was able to return to service a critical line that feeds Alliant Energy's Downtown Industrial substation, allowing Alliant Energy to restore electric services to the city's hospitals, police and fire stations, municipal government offices, businesses, and residences in the city's core.
ITC Midwest estimated that nearly 350 miles of lines in Linn County alone were impacted by the derecho. Across its entire service area, the company estimated more than 1200 miles of lines were impacted in some way, from mild damage to miles of transmission structures broken and lying on the ground. To respond, ITC Midwest mobilized more than 500 field utility workers to repair and rebuild the transmission system. At the same time, Alliant Energy, joined by employees from across Iowa and Wisconsin and crews from throughout the country, repaired and replaced its power lines and poles, substations, and other equipment.
On Aug. 13, Dusky Terry, president of ITC Midwest, had said: "This was by far the most extensive storm damage we have seen since ITC Midwest began operating the transmission system at the end of 2007. The storm was the equivalent of a 40-mile wide tornado that rolled over 100 miles of the state. We'll continue partnering with Alliant Energy and other local utilities to bring power back to Iowans.”