(Pierre, SD) SDBA — The polar vortex now gripping middle states from Canada to Texas has created an ‘unprecedented’ demand for power.
South Dakota PUC Commissioner Kristie Fiegen says the demand for power on Monday was at an ‘all time high’ and that Tuesday’s demand may exceed even that. She described the current cold weather snap as a ‘1 in 85 year event’ that has taxed energy providers like never before.
Fiegan also serves as the President of the Regional States Committee of the SPP – the Southwest Power Pool – which began issuing demand warnings to power suppliers in 14 Midwest states last Sunday, including its first ever ‘Energy Emergency Alert 3.’
The demand load peaked Monday around 9 a.m. CST and triggered rolling black outs in many areas of the central United States.
Fiegan says South Dakota began using energy reserves on Monday and brought power into the state from as far away as Canada in order to meet demand needs.
Tuesday morning brought another peak load which resulted in rolling blackout in parts of eastern South Dakota.
Feigan says local utilities are, “doing what they’re supposed to do” and termed the actions as a ‘crisis’ response.
Impacted areas are typically without power for one hour, but how those areas are selected appears to be at the discretion of the power providers, primarily the Western Area Power Administration in South Dakota.
Feigan says officials knew Tuesday “would be a tough day” and says Wednesday remains difficult but is expected to be better.
The polar vortex is expected to break apart later this week and bring much needed relief to the U.S. energy grid by soon.