Pierre’s Electric Department has caught the eye of the American Public Power Association (APPA) for the exceptional electric reliability it provided its customers in 2020.
According to data compiled from APPA’s eReliability Tracker service, those served by Pierre Municipal Utilities experienced an average of seven minutes of power outages in 2020; the five-year national average is about 317 minutes without power per year based on U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. Because of those statistics, Pierre received the Excellence in Reliability award, outshining more than 75% of all electric utilities in the nation.
“I’m very proud of the system we have built and the work of our electrical team,” said Pierre Mayor Steve Harding. “Our electric department understands what it takes to provide excellent service, and they do it well.”
Brad Palmer, City Utilities Director, echoed Harding’s comments and stated that the Mayor and the Commission deserve credit as well.
“They made tough decisions and took the necessary steps that allow us to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity,” said Palmer.
For the last ten years, the City has made strategic investments in its three electrical substations. In 2013, it built the Garfield Substation located in the vicinity of Kennedy School to better serve the expanding northeast portion of Pierre. In 2018, it improved the Ash Street Substation that is located just off of N. Harrison Avenue; in 2020 it modernized the Evans Street Substation that was originally constructed in the 1960s.
“The older the equipment, the more inclined we are to experience a failure,” said Palmer. “The system was originally designed to meet the needs of 1960s Pierre, not modern Pierre where every home has a large number of electrical devices.”
The three city-owned substations work in conjunction with one federally-owned substation. Together, they distribute electrical power to approximately 7,330 Pierre utility customers. The city does not generate power. It purchases electricity from the Western Area Power Administration and Missouri River Energy Services; both are not-for-profit wholesale power providers.
APPA represents not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide.