Community Commitment
July 3, 2024

VIDEO: Rapidan Dam flooding challenges Xcel Energy crews to stay one step ahead

With a rapidly evolving situation, workers mobilized quickly to keep power on

When rushing water from the Blue Earth River overflowed in the early morning of June 24 in Rapidan, Minnesota, the current cut a path around the Rapidan Dam and swept an entire power substation downriver, leaving nearly 600 customers without power.  Xcel Energy crews quickly got to work in the community, working through challenging environmental conditions and collaborating with emergency management and local officials to get customers’ power back on by that evening. 

 “Through quick thinking and action, our workers were able to restore power to customers in Rapidan with remarkable speed and safety,” said Todd Conner, vice president – Distribution.  

“Their tireless work is a testament to our commitment to the communities we live in and serve every day,” said Sandra Johnson, vice president – Transmission. 

To restore service to the customers east of the Blue Earth River, transmission crews installed a mobile substation nearby, replacing the infrastructure lost when the Rapidan substation washed away. For the remaining 90 customers on the west side of the river, Xcel Energy crews collaborated with BENCO Electric Cooperative to connect to the co-op’s distribution lines and restore service.  

As river conditions continued to change, Xcel Energy workers simultaneously reacted to the situation in real time and took a proactive approach to keep power on. That included building an entirely new power line away from the river to ensure customers would continue to have reliable service. 

In addition to the efforts to return service to customers, crews fortified several power facilities downriver of the Rapidan Dam, in Mankato, with sandbags and other barriers to protect them in the event the water levels rose downriver. By adjusting how power flowed through the grid, Xcel Energy teams also took steps to minimize how many customers would be affected by an outage in Mankato in the unlikely event that water reached the substations. 

Xcel Energy is making a $15,000 donation to support the Rapidan community in the wake of the flooding. Check out the video below to learn more about how our crews responded to keep our customers and communities safe: