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UPDATE : More blackouts could be coming Wednesday

All this frigid weather is affecting utilities in the area. South Dakotans are being called on...
All this frigid weather is affecting utilities in the area. South Dakotans are being called on to help conserve energy to help out our neighbors who share the same power grid.(KSFY)
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 8:37 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - 5:30 pm: More blackouts in the region may be coming Wednesday morning as extreme temps continue to impact power grids.

At the request of Southwest Power Pool, the City of Pierre is preparing for a potential blackout early Wednesday morning.

If requested, the blackout would last between 30 and 90 minutes with no individual property expecting to be without power for more than 60 minutes, according to the city.

East River Electric and Missouri River Energy Services both say it’s still unknown if a blackout will occur but say it’s possible.

East River Electric says it’s typical for electric usage to increase in the morning, which could lead to issues.

Both energy providers are continuing to ask residents to conserve and limit energy usage.

2 pm: Officials say many power outages in the region have been resolved after extreme cold caused rolling blackouts Tuesday mornings.

East River Electric’s website says power was restored to all of the cooperative’s service area at around 10:30 a.m.

Northwestern Energy’s outage map shows no current outages in the region as of 2 p.m.

Missouri River Energy Services spokesperson Joni Livingston tells Dakota News Now customer has been restored for all customers.

While progress is being made restoring power, the region is not out of the woods yet. Officials from several electricity providers and the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission said that the frigid cold will likely strain the area’s power grid through at least Wednesday.

10:15 am: Rolling blackouts prompted by severe cold are expected to continue across the region through Tuesday morning.

Three major regional energy providers - East River Electric, Northwestern Energy, and Missouri River Energy Services - all say customers may experience intermittent power outages as the prolonged cold snap puts pressure on the electrical grid across the central United States.

East River Electric spokesperson Chris Studer said the strain prompted the Southwest Power Pool to order a 200 megawatt outage 7:00 Tuesday morning in the Western Area Power Administration, which includes eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

Studer says East River Electric expects 30-45 minute outages on a rolling basis Tuesday morning.

Missouri River Energy Services spokesperson Joni Livingston said they are experiencing a power outage of “unknown size and scope” Tuesday morning. The organization is still working with its municipalities to determine how large the outage might be, and the cause.

Northwestern Energy posted that grid operators across the Midwest are implementing rolling blackouts to reduce demand and keep the grid stable.

MORE: Why is this cold snap putting so much pressure on the electrical grid?

The power outages are resulting in potentially dangerous situations as temperatures continued to hover below zero across the region. Some communities, including Aberdeen, have set up warming stations for residents who have lost power. In Brandon, students at Brandon Valley High School were forced to gather in classrooms with windows or the gymnasium after the school lost power.

Students gather in the gym after power was partially restored at Brandon Valley High School.
Students gather in the gym after power was partially restored at Brandon Valley High School.(Submitted photo)

In a statement, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson joined South Dakota power providers to urge energy conservancy.

“Unfortunately electricity demand on the grid has outstripped supply in some areas causing unplanned outages,” Nelson said. “These outages are necessary to keep from compromising the entire grid. I continue to encourage South Dakotans to limit their use of electricity wherever possible so that we can restore normal operations as quickly as possible.”

The issues are causing problems for more than just energy providers. Midco, a Sioux Falls-based internet and cable provider, tweeted Tuesday morning that the power outages may impact their services for some customers.

The frigid temperatures continue to put a strain on power resources.

According to Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer for East River Electric, that strain prompted the Southwest Power Pool to order a 200 megawatt outage at 7:00 Tuesday morning in the Western Area Power Administration, which includes eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

East River says substations in western Minnesota were de-energized. It impacted about 2,000 members of Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative and City of Tyler customers.

Around the same time, substations serving Southeastern Electric customers were de-energized. That affected about 2,200 customers in the Viborg, Hurley and Menno areas.

At 7:30, they were directed to de-energize another 200 megawatts. so they de-energized substations serving Sioux Valley Energy members on the east side of Sioux Falls – totalling about 5,700 consumers.

The Redfield, Cresbard and Mansfield areas were de-energized just before 8:00 a.m. affecting FEM Electric and Northern Electric consumers.

Power was restored to Viborg, Hurley and Menno areas before 8:00 a.m.

Studer says East River Electric expects 30-45 minute outages on a rolling basis Tuesday morning.

Sioux Valley Energy also reported nearly 7000 members without power in the Sioux Falls/Brandon area Tuesday morning.

It expects the outage to last approximately one hour.

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