Thousands lose power
Rolling outages put in place as demand for electricity surges in U.S.
TYLER — The power went out for thousands of people in parts of southwest Minnesota and eastern South Dakota on Tuesday morning, as bitterly cold temperatures across much of the country caused demand for electricity to exceed supply.
About 2,000 members of Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative and electric customers in the city of Tyler were without power for a little over an hour Tuesday morning. Due to an energy emergency affecting the central U.S., electrical service was interrupted at the Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Tyler and city of Tyler substations at 7 a.m., said Brian Jeremiason of LLEC. Power was restored to the four substations around 8:15 a.m.
The area outage happened after the Western Area Power Administration — the electrical transmission operator for the region — was directed to take a power outage of about 200 megawatts.
“It was an emergency situation. They did not have time to call and let us know,” Jeremiason said. Normally, LLEC would have wanted to notify members about the power outage beforehand, he said.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market for the central U.S., declared an Energy Emergency Alert on Tuesday, which led to rolling power outages across the East River Electric Power Cooperative’s service area. LLEC is a member of East River Electric.
Extremely low temperatures and inadequate supplies of natural gas led to the electrical generating capacity in SPP’s system falling below the demand for electricity, SPP said in a Tuesday press release.
The four substations in Lincoln County weren’t the only ones affected by the controlled power outages. The Western Area Power Administration also de-energized substations in eastern South Dakota between 7 and 8 a.m. About 5,700 consumers on the east side of Sioux Falls were affected, as well as consumers in the Viborg, Hurley and Menno areas and the Redfield, Cresbard and Mansfield areas.
In Marshall, Marshall Municipal Utilities electric operations manager Steve Johnson said they were not anticipating power outages due to the increased demand in other parts of the country.
“We did discuss it (Tuesday) morning,” Johnson said. However, he said MMU’s electrical provider, Missouri River Energy Services, had not indicated that there would be controlled outages. So far, Marshall has not reached peak electrical demand during the recent cold spell, he said.
While power was restored to LLEC members after Tuesday morning’s outages, Jeremiason said LLEC is asking members to reduce their electricity use as much as they can through Thursday.