Christmas Day storm outages update
December 29, 2016
Electric cooperatives across South Dakota continued to make progress on restoring power to some thousands of South Dakotans who remain without electricity after a Dec. 25 storm hit the state.
As power is restored, cooperatives are urging people to stay away from downed or low-hanging power lines as they may be energized.
On Thursday, three cooperatives were able to completely restore power to all their members. And, as Thursday drew to a close, cooperatives were striving to restore electricity to about 1,000 co-op members before calling crews in for the night. About 5,000 households are expected to remain without power into Friday and beyond.
Repairs to the lines – which are spread out among counties across the state from the Montana border to the Minnesota border – are slow going as crews encounter deep snow in the west and thick ice in the east. Ice continues to cling to lines, poles and other apparatus, raising concerns that additional winds or storms could cause new problems.
On transmission lines in the northeast, ice up to seven inches in diameter has been reported on the lines.
Seven distribution cooperatives and one transmission cooperative continue to have outages related to the storm. Employees at those cooperatives have been working since Sunday to make repairs. More than 74 workers from 16 South Dakota electric cooperatives are assisting with repairs, as are 52 workers from 13 cooperatives in Minnesota and Iowa. Private contractors add approximately 100 more workers to the force.
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The Christmas Day storms brought blizzard, strong winds, freezing rains and even lightning strikes to the state.
A majority of the state's electric cooperatives had also experienced outages in the storm but were able to make repairs by Monday afternoon.
The storm has also affected cooperatives' transmission suppliers, which bring electricity to local substations.
East River Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Madison, S.D., has damage in northeastern South Dakota from the Watertown and Clear Lake area north to the Sisseton area. Western Area Power Administration lines are also affected in the Summit area. EREPC is aware of nearly 500 transmission structures damaged in the storm, which affect the cooperative's ability to deliver power to substations serving some of the affected distribution cooperatives. East River crews have made significant progress and have repaired or replaced over 10 percent of the broken structures so far and expect to be able to make even more progress Friday.
For information on outages at electric cooperatives in the state, go to https://outages.sdrea.coop/outages/maps
Cooperatives urge people to stay away from downed power lines and to not drive over downed lines.
South Dakota's 28 distribution cooperatives provide electricity in each of the state's 66 counties and serve more than 120,000 South Dakota homes, farms/ranches and businesses. South Dakota's electric cooperatives maintain more than 68,000 miles of distribution and transmission line and employ more than 960 people.
–South Dakota Rural Electric Association