New electrical substation taking shape near Sturgis

Crews with Besler Construction of Rapid City work on the new $3 million Blucksberg Mountain Substation south of Sturgis. The substation is scheduled to come online in late September. Pioneer photo by Deb Holland

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STURGIS — Black Hills Energy is poised for future growth on the Interstate 90 corridor south of Sturgis.

The new $3 million Blucksberg Mountain Substation is scheduled to come online by the end of September.

“We didn’t want to wait until we were having problems, we wanted to get it built before we had any problems,” said Ken Meirose, Black Hills operations manager of Sturgis.

Black Hills Energy has owned the land on which the new substation sits since 1996. When they purchased the land, they also got a 60-foot right of way across the end of the property for the transmission line to come down from the hill.

“We also have easements that run down along the interstate to get to the other side,” Meirose said.

Currently, Black Hills Energy provides a loop of energy in the Northern Black Hills which starts at Whitewood, goes to Newell, cuts across to Belle Fourche, goes down to Spearfish back to Whitewood and then to Sturgis. From Sturgis it goes to Piedmont, then to Black Hawk and in to Rapid City.

Currently the loop is fed from either Piedmont or Whitewood, Meirose said. 

“With the addition of this sub, it will give us more capacity and reliability to close that loop,” he said.

Meirose said that if the Blucksberg Mountain Substation would have been online during the Atlas blizzard of 2013 homeowners in Blucksberg would not have been without power.

“They wouldn’t have even been affected by it,” Meirose said. “A lot of our problems were in the open area between here and Whitewood because it was so exposed.”

Another good example of the need for dependability would be the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. On a “normal” day, the Sturgis substation will run at 9 megabits. That grows to 14 megabits during the Rally. 

If something were to happen to the Whitewood substation, the new Blucksberg station could pick up the slack, Meirose said.

“No one would really notice. We could have the power back on and there would be no issues,” he said. 

Sitework began last fall with concrete pad installation.

“We let it sit over the winter to settle. This spring we started the actual construction,” Meirose said. 

Besler Construction crews are on schedule despite the snow and rain this spring, Meirose said. 

In addition to growth along I-90, the new substation will serve the Dolan Creek subdivision in Sturgis as well as the current customers in Blucksberg Mountain Estates. 

“It should greatly increase the reliability for anybody from Sturgis to the Piedmont area,” Meirose said. 

Marc Eyre, Black Hills Energy director of electric operations, said the Blucksberg Mountain substation is built so that another transformer could be added if needed. 

“Currently, customers in Blucksberg are being fed off the Whitewood substation,” he said. “This is kind of a half-way point to add a new substation to pick up that load and improve the liability to this area.”

The new substation is a great investment, Eyre said. 

“I think it will help not only immediately, but as the future builds out in this area,” he said.

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