Power companies prepare for ice - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Power companies prepare for ice

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Remember the ice storm of 2007? Eastern Iowa power companies do.

Ice-coated power lines caused outages and dangerous working conditions for power crews, but at least one good thing came out of that storm. Power companies learned what worked and what didn't, to keep power lines up.

The 2007 ice storm served as a learning experience for Alliant Energy. Since then, they've tightened up how they respond to areas prone to longer power outages.

"For each storm, we'll go back and take a look at it and say, 'here's what worked really well, here's what's brand new that we've never seen before,'" said Scott Drzycimski.

After the 2007 ice storm, Alliant Energy spent time gathering the names and numbers of customers who were without power much longer than others.

"We have all of their contact information ready. We have people within the company ready to make contact with them and work with them."

They're anticipating this week's weather will create a power line's worst enemy - freezing rain.

"Really what ends up happening, is they end up building almost a wing. You know, you get a shape off of that, and then when the wind blows, it raises and lowers the line."

The outages resulting from the 2007 storm served as a valuable lesson for Cummins Central Power of Cedar Rapids.

"People were just lined up here to get generators, and then when the power came back on, we couldn't stand out in the street and give them away," said branch manager Ellis Smith.

Cummins sells and rents out backup generators. Smaller ones sell for about $900, and are intended for home use.

"People use those just for heat and refrigeration."

The larger, commercial generators can power an entire business for hours, days, or weeks, if needed.

"Those probably would run a couple thousand dollars a week."

Smith had forty of these rented out during the 2007 storm. He recommends that home and business owners don't wait until after the storm has started to buy or rent a generator.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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