Restoring power in Joplin

Restoring Power to Joplin, MO

When tornadoes and other weather disasters strike and utilities’ infrastructures are damaged, Power Partners employees do all they can to help customers quickly restore power so communities can clean up and rebuild.

On May 22, 2011, a Category 5 tornado tore through Joplin, MO, and its eastern suburbs, and its more than 200 mph wind speed left a path of destruction 13 miles long and up to ¾ of a mile wide after 32 minutes on the ground.  Many lives were lost, making the tornado one of the deadliest in U.S. history.

One meteorologist described the destruction as “Joplin having been put into a blender.”  The damage to Empire District Electric Co.’s system was extensive.  More than 4,000 poles and over 100 miles of line were down, five substations were damaged, and one substation was completely destroyed.  Approximately 20,000 Empire District customers were without power.

As an alliance customer, Empire’s needs immediately became Power Partners’ top priority.  As Empire employees were doing amazing feats on the ground in Joplin in very trying circumstances, Power Partners employees moved into overdrive to build urgently needed replacement transformers, giving up their weekends so they could produce units seven days a week.  Power Partners started shipping transformers the day Empire placed its first order, and employees completed Empire’s order that represented almost six months of usage in just two weeks.

Ten days after the tornado, Empire had restored power to all customers who were able to receive service.  When Empire was honored by the Edison Electric Institute for its restoration efforts, Martin Penning, vice president of commercial operations for Empire, said:  “In our 102-year history, this was the most devastating storm to impact our company.  The work of our employees and those of the companies who came to our aid immediately following the storm was exemplary.”

Empire specifically thanked Power Partners employees for their “superior performance and unending dedication” in a plaque it presented to Power Partners:  “Your performance exemplifies the meaning of an Alliance Partner.   You worked overtime, worked through material issues, called other customers to get us production space, and expedited product, sometimes with great difficulty, to help with the Power to Rebuild Joplin.  Thank you.”