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Crews helping restore power to Watertown, other communities

Linemen restore S.D. power 

Linemen restore S.D. power: Crews use bucket trucks to get ice-laden conductor back in the air on the Summit-to-Watertown transmission line, Dec. 28. The line repair was part of a larger restoration effort after a Dec. 25, 2016 blizzard blanketed the area, knocking out power to residents and communities in Montana and the Dakotas. The Watertown, S.D., area was hit particularly hard. (Photo by Watertown Line Forman Jammy Eitreim)

​See more repair work photos from WAPA responding to the December 2016 storm on WAPA's Flickr channel.

A devastating ice storm and severe blizzard conditions blanketed the Upper Great Plains region, Dec. 25-26, with snow and ice, knocking out power to many communities. WAPA is continuing to work closely with local utilities to restore power.

(Note: WAPA provided updates on the status and power system recovery for the Summit Substation near Watertown, South Dakota.) 

Status updates

Jan. 21, 2017: WAPA returned its Forman-to-Summit 115-kilovolt line to service. The line had been out of service since Dec. 25, when an ice storm moved through the area and destroyed about 12 miles of line. This additional path for reliably delivering power to S.D. customers makes the area's electric grid whole again.

Dec. 29, 4:40p: The Bristol-Summit transmission line and Summit Substation have been energized.

Dec. 29, 3:25p:  The Bristol–Summit transmission line is once again intact. WAPA is anticipating energizing the Bristol-Summit line and Summit Substation late this afternoon.  The transmission line still has substantial ice, as does the insulators in the substation yard.  Because of the remaining ice on equipment, it is uncertain if the facilities will remain energized.

Dec. 29, 6:30a: Summit Substation restoration going well. Crews anticipate the substation to be energized this afternoon. 

Dec. 28, 1:30p: WAPA anticipates its facilities will be back up in the next couple days. Provided the weather melts enough ice off the wires, the Summit Substation will be powered up then as well.

Dec. 27, 10:01a: WAPA's line crews patrolled the transmission lines that deliver power to Summit Substation. WAPA line repairs include:

  • 11 wooden structures on the Watertown-to- Summit line
  • 12 miles of transmission line on the Foreman-to-Summit line
  • 5 wooden structures down on Bristol-to-Summit

Also, another four Watertown transmission lines are experiencing an outage due to the blizzard.

Dec. 26, 5:32a: WAPA's Summit Substation loses power service, including  three transmission lines that deliver power to the substation. 


On Dec. 25, 2016, blizzard conditions swept throughout North and South Dakota. The Watertown, South Dakota, area was hit the hardest. It started with rain, about 32 degrees with high wind, then turned to snow and colder temperatures. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard declared a state of emergency.

WAPA and local utilities are responding and working together to get power restored quickly and safely. WAPA appreciates the dedication and teamwork to restore the system together. Other entities working to restore power include:

  • Black Hills Energy
  • East River Electric Power Cooperative
  • Montana-Dakota Utilities
  • NorthWestern Energy
  • Otter Tail Power Company
  • Xcel Energy

Residents are encouraged to continue checking with their local utilities for estimates on local restoration activities.

Safety Reminder!

As a reminder to everyone in the area, do not approach downed electrical lines. Never touch a downed line even if residential power is “out,” as during restoration efforts downed lines may become energized. If you come across a downed electrical line, contact your local utility immediately.

Page Last Updated: 1/2/2020 8:03 AM