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Power restored to Kandi Cooperative customers after thousands affected

WILLMAR -- Crews with the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative and Great River Energy restored electrical service to all of the local cooperative's customers by early evening on Wednesday after thousands had lost service in the afternoon.

Dave George, CEO of Kandiyohi Power, said at one point Wednesday afternoon that as many as nine of the 10 substations serving customers in the system were down.

The power outage affected customers in an area ranging from Lake Lillian to Hawick, and Diamond Lake to Raymond.

The crews had restored power to all but one substation by 3:30 p.m., but then lost the power again after about 20 minutes. Around 3:45 p.m., crews had restored power to 7 of 10 substations.

The cause of the outage was difficult to track, since there was no apparent or catastrophic equipment failure within the system.

George said workers believe the problem is a high-voltage transmission issue. A transmission vacuum breaker -- which he described as essentially an automatic fuse -- in the Willmar substation was not operating properly.

Workers isolated the substation, and rerouted power to other substations in order to provide service to customers.

George said he could not say definitely that the vacuum breaker was the cause of the problem until workers are able to complete diagnostic work on it. However, he was optimistic that customers would not have their power interrupted. The crews had encountered no difficulties in providing service once the Willmar substation had been isolated, he said.

The outage occurred at a time when there was not a heavy electrical demand on the system, he added.