Minnesota Power’s assistance in restoring power after a fierce storm caused widespread damage in Manitoba was recognized recently at a special event at the headquarters of Manitoba Hydro in Winnipeg.

Jay Grewal, president and chief executive officer at Manitoba Hydro, recognized the utility’s mutual aid partners Minnesota Power, SaskPower and Hydro One, along with Manitoba Hydro employees for their work after the storm in October left tens of thousands without power. Also speaking at the event on Dec. 11 were Jeff Wharton, minister of Crown Services for Manitoba, and Marina James, Manitoba Hydro board chair. The recognition event followed a roundtable with representatives from the utilities to discuss the restoration effort.

Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power sent 14 people to Manitoba on Oct. 14, and crews spent about two weeks there working long days in unforgiving wet and muddy conditions. It was the first time in Manitoba Hydro’s history that it asked for mutual aid assistance from other utilities, underscoring the scope of the damage, and also the first time that MP sent crews to Canada to help restore power after a major storm.

ALLETE President Bethany Owen said Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power were proud to respond to a neighbor in need.

“When we learned about the devastation Manitoba Hydro suffered to its system and the number of customers that were affected with more cold weather on the way, we knew we had to help by sending our equipment and experienced team north. We’re pleased to know we were able to make the restoration a little easier and quicker for our friends in Canada,” Owen said. “Mutual aid response is a hallmark of the energy industry and whether in Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017 and 2018 or Manitoba this year, the expertise, work ethic and good humor of our teams speak to our reputation as a trusted partner when it comes to getting the lights back on.”

Tim Laeupple, manager of line operations for Minnesota Power, and Dean Erdman, line crew supervisor, represented Minnesota Power at the roundtable and recognition event.

According to Manitoba Hydro, over the course of restoring damage from the Oct.11-13 storm, more than 1,000 people from Manitoba Hydro, Minnesota Power, SaskPower, and Hydro One replaced over 4,000 poles and re-strung nearly 600 miles of distribution power lines. From Oct. 10-17, Manitoba Hydro received over 266,000 outage reports.

“Times like these are a reminder of how fortunate we are to have neighboring utilities who will come to our aid with a mere ask, and not just from adjacent provinces but another country,” Grewal wrote in a letter to Owen and ALLETE Chairman and CEO Al Hodnik. “I hope you will accept our deep appreciation and convey our sincerest gratitude to all of your staff. We are proud to count on Minnesota Power and are ready to reciprocate if and when you ever need us."