The South Dakota Rural Electric Association reports over 13,000 outages in South Dakota and Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared a state of emergency for all of South Dakota following a Christmas Day storm. Of those without power, over 7,000 are in northeast South Dakota and over 2,000 are in Grant County alone. Due to the way power is distributed and the extent of the damage, Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative estimates its customers will remain without power until at least Saturday.
The majority of the damage occurred in the Summit area where the East River Electric Power Co-op reports more than 350 poles down. Whetstone Valley Electric has three feeds from the west to get power from East River Power (based in Madison, South Dakota) and the Western Area Power Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Energy) in the Summit area. This feeds all WVEC substations. The WAPA’s Summit substation is out of service as all three lines that feed it are down. The WAPA is estimating it will be three to four days before they can return it to service. All WVEC consumers will remain without power until they can get it online.
Alternate transmission routes will take even longer to repair. WVEC crews and those assisting them will continue to repair damage and prepare the distribution system for the power restoration.
Governor Daugaard, in issuing the Executive Order, stated, “Every part of South Dakota was impacted in some way by this holiday storm. If it was not heavy snow, it was freezing rain and high winds.” Area counties also sustaining extensive damage and record outages included: Grant- 2,000; Roberts-1,506; Marshall- 1,500; Day- 1,205; Deuel- 665; Codington- 213; and Clark 100.
The Governor has ordered state government technical resources be made available to support county governments to restore normal travel conditions and emergency services. Those technical resources will be coordinated by the state Department of Public Safety’s Office of Emergency Management.
Whetstone Valley Electric cooperative pledged to keep working on their system to be as ready as possible when they get power. They caution everyone to stay away from downed power lines. They also remind members to check on neighbors who might need assistance and if necessary to seek shelter.
Grant County’s shelter is at the Grant County Court House. Roberts County shelters include the gym at Old Agency College and St Peter’s Hall in Sisseton.