We have had some challenges over the last week or so with the winter weather that blanketed the region. Unfortunately it appears we are in for some more, along with high winds and freezing temperatures. For what to expect, go here: https://www.weather.gov/arx/12212022winterstorm
To keep up-to-date, go here: https://www.weather.gov/lacrosse
Power delivery in the Village of Merrillan is unique for such a small population. We own and operate our utility and purchase electricity from wholesale providers, such as Dairyland Power, among others including renewable resources.
The electricity infrastructure in the United States varies depending on where you go, but normally consists of multiple providers, public and private, coordinating together for power delivery. This means you have many different routes, types, ages, and so forth for the grid.
In Merrillan our primary lines come in from Jackson Electric, who also utilizes Dairyland Power, and other sources. From there we have multiple other lines owned by different organizations who are responsible for their maintenance, repair, and overall operation. For example, Merrillan operates out of the Merrillan Substation, which is actually at the intersection of US Hwy 12 & Gilbert Rd, south of the Village towards Black River Falls.
There are many opportunities for mother nature, and humans, to interrupt our electricity within our small Village. Inside the Village itself we have plenty of tall pine and other trees which make it a very beautiful area, but that also means more trees to fall on power lines. Even with clearing right-of-ways we have many trees that are beyond that, which in turn with weather like we just had, will result in downed lines, and therefore outages.
It just takes time.
With Merrillan being such a small Village we have limited resources when situations like this arise. In fact, just about any utility, regardless of size and staff, will struggle to get the power turned back on with weather like this, many others certainly did, large and small. It is not as simple as flipping a switch. You have to find the power lines that were downed, hope they aren’t broken, ensure your equipment is operating properly and safely, work during continuing inclement weather (up in a bucket, in the air), work around dangerous voltages of electricity, and in the case of last week, work around continuously falling trees, limbs, and battling the wind. These are long and hard hours put in by line workers everywhere, and ours did a fantastic job with the very lage task at hand.
So, as citizens what can we do to help mitigate this? We can prepare as best we can.
Buy a generator and learn to operate it safely, have options available to keep warm, SAFELY. Have food and water on hand that do not need electricity. Keep up on clearing snow so if needed emergency vehicles can access your location. Above all, make a plan, ANY plan is better than none!
Thank you, stay safe!