SD companies offer tips to conserve energy, avoid rolling blackouts

RAPID CITY, S.D. – As the cold weather persists, the West River Electric Association and Black Hills Energy are asking customers to limit their energy use.

Due to unusually high energy consumption tied to the freeze, they’re asking customers to avoid things like laundry, showering, cooking and washing dishes during peak energy times. That means limiting use of hot water. Peak times are morning and night from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Companies urge conservation to continue until temperatures start to warm back up.

Black Hills Energy says rolling black outs are not a concern for their customers. West River Electric says they are “doing everything in its power to avoid this escalating to that level,” in regards to restricting energy use. Lacreek Electric Association says their customers may experience outages. 

“We’ve been monitoring the situation very closely and we’ve worked with our generation team so that our generation assets are available online for customers, so right now, we’ve had no curtailments for customers here in South Dakota and don’t anticipate any right now,” said Marc Eyre, vice president of operations, Black Hills Energy.

Black Hills Energy says that if health concerns are not a factor, thermostats should be set to 68 degrees and dropped while away from home or asleep.

They also suggest the following:

  • Hold off on doing chores. Doing laundry or washing dishes can use energy to heat the water and your dryer. If you can, only wash full loads using cold water, air dry your clothes, or even better, wait until the extreme cold weather passes to complete these activities.
  • Check your furnace filter – make sure it’s clean and properly installed facing the correct direction.
  • Make sure your furnace vent, gas fireplace vent and tankless/conventional water heater vents are free from any obstructions or debris.
  • Adjust your humidity. A well-humidified house at 68 degrees is as comfortable as a dry house at 75 degrees.
  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans only as needed. In just one hour, these fans can exhaust a house full of warmed air.
  • Reduce hot water usage. Use low-flow faucets and shower heads and take short showers instead of baths. Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees or put it on the “warm” setting.

High usage nationwide puts a strain on energy resources. Eyre says they prioritize more efficient energy resources to meet consumption needs but that can lead to certain resources rising in demand and cost.

If the cold weather and national usage drives prices up for customers, a number of loan assistance programs are available:

  • The easiest way for families to access emergency assistance funds is to call 211, and a representative will connect them with a utility assistance case worker in their area.
  • Customers in the Black Hills Energy service territory are eligible for Black Hills Cares funds, a utility assistance program made possible by donations from fellow customers. The Black Hills Energy Foundation matches those donations at 100%.
  • The state Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) application period is currently open at: Low Income Energy Assistance (sd.gov).
  • Budget Billing is a free, stable payment option offered by Black Hills Energy that makes bills more predictable by averaging the amount you pay each month so you can avoid spikes in a bill caused by seasonal anomalies.
Categories: Local News, South Dakota News