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Area sees outages as energy supply runs short

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The extreme cold temperatures across the country are having an impact on energy consumption in South Dakota. Several outages occurred Tuesday in our area.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission says the demand for power this week is at an all-time high. As temperatures range from below zero to single digits, the supply of non-renewable power is running short. That’s why several South Dakotans saw their power go out Tuesday anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes. These ‘rolling blackouts’ are meant to preserve energy.

PUC Chairman Chris Nelson said that while he supports wind and other renewable sources, they must work in tandem with coal and biofuels to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again. He said that we still have a long way to go before we can store enough renewable energy to prepare for shortages.

“Today, there is not the technology available to store the vast quantities of electricity that would be needed to ride through events as we’ve experienced over the last couple of days,” Nelson said. “We’ve simply got to have some other generation source.”

The PUC says this shortage is a once in 85-year event. But even if we don’t expect a similar event, There are ways that individuals can help preserve energy.

Dick Johnson, CEO of West River Electric Cooperative, said that while the rolling blackouts didn’t affect western South Dakota as much as other parts of the country, people can still take part in conserving energy.

“If you can put off washing a load of clothes, drying those clothes, running the dishwasher, any of that, if you can hold that off until a day or two later, that would help us greatly,” Johnson said. “Because, the weather is supposed to moderate, and that’s going to help the entire country with energy consumption.”

Johnson says around 3,000 West River Electric customers were without power at some point Tuesday.

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