Power Outage in Minnesota Forces Businesses to Close

September 09, 2013

By Frank Griffin - Contributing Writer

No matter how modern or secure the power grid is, many scenarios take place in which power is temporarily interrupted. Depending on the malfunction, many hours can pass before the problem is resolved and power is restored. The recent power outage in Montevideo, Minnesota, resulted in businesses closing their doors for the day and residents having to go without power for up to 12 hours or more before it was eventually restored.

The power outage was caused by a transformer phase burnout at the Xcel Energy substation in Montevideo at 3:20 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29. The company issued a statement explaining the failure of the transformer at the substation and replacement equipment was going to be installed. The process was going to take until 6:30 p.m., which was more than 12 hours after the initial power outage.

Two of the largest companies forced to close their doors for the day were the Jennie-O Turkey Store further processing facility and the Wal-Mart Superstore, resulting in unreported losses for the organizations. The power outage also occurred in one of the hottest days in the city, forcing city officials to open cooling sites at public facilities with power. The city used backup generators in order to keep critical infrastructure functioning. This included emergency service centers and the municipal water plant. A total of 1335 customers were inconvenienced throughout the power outage.

At the time of the incident there was not a heavy load and the temperature at the facility was around 60 degrees, ruling out heat or too much demand as the cause of the transformer burnout. The company brought in a mobile substation while a crew worked on fixing the equipment.

We live in a world that is heavily dependent on electricity to power many of the devices we use every day. Whether it is computers, telecommunication devices, medical equipment, and many of the consumer electronics in our homes, any type of disruption can stop our ability to use these devices.

The timing of this power outage demonstrates power disruption can take place any time, and if the right power protection system is not put in place, the damage to the equipment and information stored within these devices can be threatened, causing irreparable damage in some instances.

These devices are not cheap and it is important to use surge protectors and/or a UPS to ensure they can withstand any power fluctuation and power down without losing data and burning out the equipment.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson