Disaster Response

Public power utilities help Columbia Water & Light with restoration

Responding to a mutual aid request, crews from Missouri public power utilities over the weekend came to the assistance of Missouri’s Columbia Water & Light to help with power restoration efforts after a snow storm hit the city.

The major winter storm began on Friday, Jan. 11 and on Saturday, Jan. 12, the City of Columbia, Mo., reported that approximately 7,000 City of Columbia Utilities customers were without power, caused by trees and limbs sagging on power lines from heavy snow and that the city was seeking mutual aid.

Columbia Water & Light officials sought mutual aid the morning of Jan. 12 and Interim City Manager John Glascock subsequently approved and made the official request with the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA). Columbia Water & Light is a member of MPUA.

Crews from Macon, Palmyra, Waynesville and Rolla (all MPUA members in Missouri) responded to the mutual aid request and contractors PAR Electrical and Asplundh were also helping in their areas of expertise. PAR is a Missouri-based electrical contractor, while Asplundh primarily provides vegetation management and utility infrastructure services to a wide range of utilities and municipalities.

The city said that because the snow was heavy and wet, it caused many issues. Crews worked on the larger outages, impacting large amounts of customers, caused by trees and limbs falling into distribution lines. They then worked on restoring power back to individual homes that have had single drop wires impacted by winter weather, the city said.

Lissie Wade, City of Columbia Community Relations Specialist for Water & Light, said that as of Jan. 15 all of the utility’s customers had power.

“We restored power to all customers yesterday, but we have had a few smaller outages due to trees and limbs continuing to fall into the power lines from the recent storm,” she said in an email. “So even though all the major outages were fixed Sunday, and a few small ones remained yesterday, we are still experiencing a few small new ones due to damages trees.”

The City of Columbia has been a participant in MPUA’s mutual aid program for many years and has both given and received aid during times of emergency.  

Columbia last responded to a call for mutual aid in October 2018 to help restore power in areas damaged by hurricane Michael. The last time the city called for mutual aid was in July 2014 for damage caused by strong summer storms.

Public power crews also help city of Seymour, Mo.

The City of Seymour, Mo., which was also hit by power outages due to the winter storm, posted on its Facebook page over the weekend that crews from City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., City of Nixa, Mo., and the City of Cabool, Mo., had arrived to help with Seymour’s restoration efforts.

The City of Seymour, City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., the City of Nixa and the City of Cabool are all members of MPUA.

Late in the day on Sunday, Jan. 13, City Utilities of Springfield in a tweet said its crews were finishing up in Seymour and then heading to Kansas City, Mo, to help restore power there.

Nebraska's Omaha Public Power District on Jan. 14 said it was also sending crews to the Kansas City area to help restore power after the weekend storm left more than 110,000 Kansas City Power & Light customers without power at its peak.

OPPD said it was sending four 3-person crews, two mechanics and a supervisor to assist in the effort.