How your cooperative maintains a safe and reliable electric system

After the February power failures in Texas, Dakota Electric members may be concerned about the reliability of their electricity. Rest assured, your electric cooperative is more than prepared. Our focus on planning, proactive maintenance and investment in infrastructure improves our ability to deliver power to you, our member-owners, no matter the circumstances.

Each year, Dakota Electric provides the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission with a Safety, Reliability and Service Quality (SRSQ) internal audit report. The report evaluates our reliability, safety performance and service levels in comparison to previous years. Based on that report, Dakota Electric makes plans for system maintenance and investments. As a result, our reliability numbers continue to be among the best in the nation, ranked in the top ten percentile. 

Recent residential growth and large commercial developments in and around Dakota County call for an increase in electric capacity from Dakota Electric. Last year, a number of substation upgrades were performed. The Burnscott substation in Burnsville received a new transformer, and the Lebanon Hills substation in Eagan was completely rebuilt and converted from a voltage of 69kv to a more robust 115kv. 

We also added a new substation in Inver Grove Heights to meet the increasing demand for electric capacity in that area. The Barnes Grove substation is expected to come online this spring. 

In addition to substation work, we continue to replace aging infrastructure, install advanced meters and update our equipment and technology. We plan to design, stake and build electric services to over 1,000 new homes and businesses this year, and install approximately 100 miles of electric line to feed new services. 

Lastly, we address the worst performing feeders on an annual basis to improve reliability in areas experiencing the most frequent outages. In 2020, we found one utility pole was affected by four separate vehicle accidents, causing power outages for our members. In January, a minor reconfiguration project was completed to convert a portion of the overhead line where the pole was located with underground line to reduce outages and avoid the potential for future incidents.

Avoiding catastrophic outages and rolling blackouts like Texas endured is a combined effort between Dakota Electric and our power supplier, Great River Energy, who operates an exceptional fleet of generation and transmission assets on our behalf. 

We work hard to ensure rates remain affordable for our members, and though equipment replacement and construction is expensive, our excellent reliability numbers show that these expenses make the system more reliable for you. We value your trust and will continue to invest your dollars wisely to ensure superior reliability, member services, effective environmental and conservation programs and outstanding safety.