Christmas Blizzard Freezes Substations, Communication Lines

Jan. 3, 2017
Upper Great Plains linemen, dispatchers respond to north-central Christmas blizzard.

A devastating ice storm and severe blizzard conditions blanketed the Upper Great Plains region last week with snow and ice, knocking out power to many communities. Western Area Power Administration has been working closely with local utilities to restore power.

“Restoring electricity to customers is our top priority. We recognize the enormous impact a loss of electric power has on everyone. We are working to resolve the problems power customers in the Summit South Dakota, area are facing as a result of the devastating ice storm and blizzard conditions this week,” said Senior Vice President and UGP Regional Manager Bob Harris.

WAPA crews worked from Dec. 26 on to repair the federal grid, which supplies bulk power to local utilities, and those utilities then distribute the electricity using their local distribution system. The storm impacted WAPA’s Summit Substation, as well as several high-voltage transmission lines in the local area.

“We are doing everything we can to restore service to our Summit Substation, including calling employees in from holiday vacation and dispatching employees and equipment from across South Dakota and North Dakota to repair our transmission line facilities,” said Harris. “Our workers are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to safely restore service as soon as we can.” 

WAPA deployed linemen from across South Dakota and North Dakota to work closely with operations staff at WAPA’s Watertown Dispatch Center to restore power and coordinate activities with neighboring utilities.

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