Winter weather takes out city power

Ice on lines at this substation just west of Flandreau caused a power outage in town lasting over five hours on Sunday.

Flandreau residents were without power for more than five hours Sunday after ice built up on the power lines that bring electricity to the substation west of town.
The outage occurred shortly before 10 a.m. and was restored by about 3:30 p.m. to the town’s 1,385 customers. Temperatures during the day were just over 20 degrees.  Wind also contributed to the outage, said Jeff Pederson, city administrator.
“It was a very unusual situation, and one that is almost impossible to prevent,” he said.
Emergency officials also warned residents to refrain from using water during the power outage because the lift stations were being run by generators. No sewage backups occurred.
The new lift station installed as part of the recently completed First Avenue project does not have a permanent generator and would not hook up to a portable generator, Pederson said.
“When that new lift station was built, there was not a permanent generator installed,” he said. That equipment typically costs tens of thousands of dollars, but the issue will need to be discussed, he said.
“That will be reviewed with consideration to possibly installing a generator on site,” Pederson said.
Flandreau has a single-feed of power coming into town. Some communities have a redundant system in place but there would be no guarantee that weather would not have caused an additional line to go down as well, he said. A backup feed would be very expensive. “It’s a major financial item,” he said.
City offices also were not able to access software systems to do business Monday morning. Pederson was not sure if that was caused by the outage, but the offices do not have a generator as backup.
At United Methodist Church on Sunday, worshippers sang accompanied by guitar and by reading words off their cell phones or other electronic devices. Some Flandreau businesses closed while waiting for power to be restored while others, such as the hospital and Royal River Casino, remained open by using generators to power their operations.
Pederson thanked customers for being patient and said the crew that responded to fix the feed were very responsive. Six linemen from the Western Area Power Administration’s Watertown office fixed the high-voltage lines to restore power with the help of two city employees.


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