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FARMINGTON, Minn. (July 14, 2008) —Thursday’s thunderstorms hit Dakota Electric Association members hard with 70-mile-an-hour winds and a tornado touchdown near Vermillion that cut a six-mile long path through rural Dakota County.

High winds knocked down trees and damaged buildings and homes while hail destroyed acres of crops. Miles of utility transmission and distribution lines were damaged by high winds and falling trees.

“There were more poles down than I have ever seen,” Dale Staiger, powerline specialist crew chief and 36-year employee, said. “It was really bad.”

At the height of damage, Dakota Electric estimates more than 16,000 were without power. The outages were widespread, but the hardest hit areas were Burnsville , New Trier and Miesville. Dakota Electric immediately dispatched crews to storm-damaged areas. System operators and line crews brought a large number of members back on quickly by working together and using remote communications and switching technology. By 10 p.m. Thursday night, only 4,500 members remained without power.

On Friday, crews made good progress restoring approximately 3,600 accounts despite hot, humid weather and a heat index of nearly 100 degrees. Only 400 were still without power on Saturday morning, but crews continued their hard work and restored nearly everyone with just a few lingering until Sunday.

“We would go from one mess to another mess,” Joe Kuhn, powerline specialist crew chief, said about the difficult repair job.

Crews from Connexus Energy , Minnesota Valley Electric, Tri-County Electric and Wright-Hennepin Electric all responded to Dakota Electric’s call for help.

“Our staff and crews did an incredible job in this restoration effort,” President and CEO Greg Miller said. “We are also grateful for crews who came from neighboring cooperatives to assist. Without everyone’s help, we wouldn’t have restored an outage of this magnitude as quickly as we did.”