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As of 5:00 this afternoon, MidAmerican Energy has resumed service to almost all of the customers who lost power in last Monday's derecho, but there are still 65,000 customers of Alliant Energy still waiting for the lights to come back on. It's hard to convey just how bad the storm was -- the official figures are pretty dry, but the videos are not. It was (and remains) a major catastrophe. Resuming utility service is of course a critical matter -- you can't rebuild without water, power, and sewers. If you haven't reviewed our presentation on backup pumping systems, please do take a look before you work on your next station installation.
If you in Eastern Iowa and were counting on portable generators to keep a lift station running for a week or more, you're probably facing incredible bills for overtime labor and challenges finding diesel by this point. And redundant grid access probably wouldn't have done much good either -- not with a damage path at least 100 miles wide and easily visible from space.
Remember that engines are an allowable backup option under Iowa and Ten States Standards. A fixed engine backup powered by natural gas can stay in service indefinitely without the need for constant babysitting and refueling. It's also worth noting that an engine backup can work even if the station were to, for example, take a direct hit from lightning that wiped out the control panel. If you have an ignition key, you can start an engine. This is why so many communities have chosen Gorman-Rupp's Auto-Start lift stations. For comparable (and often even lower) total cost than a station with a fixed generator backup, you can have a fully-integrated engine backup always standing ready at your lift station, prepared to instantaneously take over if the power goes out.