BREAKING: Bitter cold leads to rolling power blackouts across South Dakota (Audio)

February 16, 2021
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–A prolonged, bitterly cold stretch of weather brought the electric grid to its knees today.

South Dakota rural electric cooperatives began implementing rolling blackouts this morning in response to overwhelming demand for power during record-setting low temperatures and wind chills.

The Southwest Power Pool, which covers a group of utilities across 14 states, including South Dakota, flipped the switch to rolling outages because reserve energy supplies had been exhausted.

Chris Nelson is the chairman of South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission…

Nelson tells KWAT News an event like this points out the importance of the future makeup of the power grid across the country…and where that power comes from…

During this cold snap, there hasn’t been a lot of wind energy being produced.

Nelson says reliable sources of power such as coal still need to be part of the equation…

The power blackouts included Codington-Clark Electric, Southeastern Electric, Northern Electric, FEM Electric and Sioux Valley Energy customers in South Dakota.

Many of the planned blackouts lasted around one hour.