Eager to shed what they feel is a misconception of delays in FEMA housing sites, the head of a local power company told a group that any delays in startup were not due to electrical installation taking too long.
Bruce Carlson, manager of Verendrye Electric, told a Minot service club Tuesday afternoon that of the 600 pads at Virgil Workman Village on 55th Street Southeast, only 30 remain without electrical service.
"We have 570 lots energized, and we're extremely proud of that," Carlson said. "It's taken a lot of work, a lot of effort."
Rows of electric meters installed by Verendrye line the yards at Virgil Workman Village in Minot Tuesday.
Carlson said Verendrye's goal is to have the remaining units complete by week's end.
He said in his opinion, utilities companies have taken "a lot of guff" over the speed of the project.
"I've heard we're the hold-up getting those trailers into those lots," Carlson said. "It's just absolutely not true."
Xcel Energy evaluating all transformers to prevent potential difficulties
Dan Olson of Xcel Energy said Tuesday that the usage for trailers on private sites in the area has been much heavier than was initially anticipated.
"We really haven't had a lot, no," Olson said. "We had some, but we have not had a lot of issues with it. We have over 1,000 FEMA trailers in here, and we've had six transformers go out."
In fact, Olson said Xcel is currently evaluating all its transformers in order to proactively prevent smaller ones from potential difficulties.
"When we find those smaller ones, we're going to be changing them out," he said. "We've already done some of that, but we want to get them changed out before we get some real cold weather."
Olson said he has heard some confusion regarding a correlation between stressed transformers and water lines on FEMA trailers freezing up.
"In fact, a lot of the trailers that are freezing up are out there at 55th Street," Olson said. That 600-pad development is serviced by brand-new Verendrye Electric transformers.
"There has not been a trailer freeze-up where we've had a transformer that's been replaced," Olson said.
The heavy usage is exacerbated by the fact that many people are using electric heaters in flood-damaged houses in order to keep their pipes from freezing.
"And they're adding space heaters in these trailers," Olson said. "They're just taking a lot more load than anticipated."
- Dave Caldwell
He said electrical cables aren't laid until water and sewer pipes are complete.
The design of the heating and other systems in the trailers leads to extremely high power usage, Carlson said, but the Workman Village site has not had transformer problems since it is newly constructed and capable of handling the larger loads.
Verendrye's portion of work on the FEMA 300-pad site north of County Road 12 at 43rd Street Northeast is nearing completion as well.
"The dedicated circuit has been completed from the east Minot substation, and that power is available now to that site," Carlson said. However, he declined to speculate when any of the individual pads would be completed, as Verendrye is only providing the circuit, which it has done.
Carlson also gave the group an update on its overall flood numbers.
"We initially had over 900 accounts affected - 600 accounts disconnected, meters actually flooded," Carlson said.
"I'm glad to report we've got everybody back on now, except about 200 accounts. Some of those will not be reconnected."