Dave Page, general manager of Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative (WVEC), recapped the effects the recent blizzard had on area residents.
Page said, “We have a great team of line technicians and electricians who were ready and willing to do whatever it took to keep the lights on. Overall, our system held up very well.
We were fortunate there was not more ice accumulation on the power lines during the three-day weather event. Our administration and support team also did a great job handling member calls and communicating with the line crews.”
According to Page, a number of Isolated outages occurred due to trees falling on lines. On the afternoon of December 13, two separate line sections failed. It affected 40 consumers for approximately one hour.
“Throughout the early morning hours of December 14, power supply was lost to several substations affecting more than 1,100 consumers. East River Electric Power Cooperative (EREPC) switched transmission routes or repaired lines to reenergize the substations,” Page reported. “Most of the substation-level outages lasted only a few minutes. One lasted an hour.”
He also noted that approximately 10 broken poles were replaced and numerous line breaks were repaired. Most of these were along the Couteau Hill on the south and west side of Whetstone’s service territory.
“On December 15, at about noon,” Page said, “a vehicle left the roadway and struck and damaged a primary line junction box disrupting power to 38 consumers for about two hours.” A few other outages continued throughout the morning due to falling tree limbs, but all outages were restored by 3 p.m.
“EREPC experienced about 30 broken poles in and around the Whetstone Valley service territory,” Page said and explained. “East River owns and operates the transmission system and substations that serve Whetstone Valley Electric along with 23 other rural electric distribution cooperatives throughout eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota. East River did an excellent job of switching, rerouting, and repairing the transmission system to keep energy flowing to our members.”
By Friday, December 16, the power outages were under control, but crews remained ready. Jack Hoeke, a WVEC employee, got wind of the shortage of drivers needed o deliver meals on Wheels in Milbank due to the difficult road conditions. He headed back out into the storm and helped to get food to hungry residents.
Page gave kudos to Hoeke and said, “Thanks, Jack, for helping to deliver the meals and demonstrating the cooperative principle of commitment to our community.”