When millions of people lost power in Texas due to record snowfall and cold temperatures some people claimed it was in part due to failing wind turbines. It turns out that the problem with the Texas wind turbines was that because it rarely gets very cold there they had not insulated their wind turbines and no heating features were installed.

So what does the extreme cold of winter do to the thousands of Wind Turbines in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa?

Last week when temperatures dropped to over -20 below in the Sioux Falls tri-state area we saw rolling blackouts. Was this due to the weather's effect on the wind turbines?

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Dakota News Now asked South Dakota's Public Utilities Commissioner, Chris Nelson, about windmill power generation in extremely cold weather. Nelson stated, “There are times when the wind will literally provide 65 to 70 percent of the electricity that’s being consumed in that particular area (central part of the country).” But there are also times when it's only contributing 8 to 10 percent of the needed electrical demand.

Nelson went on to say, 'When they get below -24 we’ve got to shut them off because of that point the metal becomes too brittle and they simply cannot operate reliably.”

Electrical companies providing power for our grid use a combination of sources of energy including coal, natural gas, wind, and hydroelectric power which provides the largest share of South Dakota's in-state generation. In-state hydroelectric typically accounts for between 40% and 55% of the power generated in South Dakota.

Leaders Park Sioux Falls


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