A couple dozen community members joined representatives of East River Electric Power Cooperative, Oahe Electric Cooperative, Ringneck Energy, Onida Area Development Corporation, and the Onida Chamber of Commerce when the ribbon was cut on the new substation south of Onida last Friday, August 23, 2019.
East River Electric Chief Member and Public Relations Officer Chris Studer related the 75 year history East River has in the area as the provider to Oahe Electric Cooperative. “It’s an exciting day, and marks a new era of power delivery in this region,” said Studer. “East River and its member co-ops are proud of the legacy we’ve built over the past 69 years of providing reliable power supply to both rural areas and towns in our region including right here in Onida and the surrounding area.”
Studer also explained to the gathered crowd that the new substation offers two separate transmission lines to provide transmission redundancy to the area. In addition, the substation has two transformers, one for Ringneck Energy and one for the city of Onida and Oahe Electric members. Each can cover the load of the other, should one go down.
Studer then introduced East River’s Chief Operations Officer Mark Hoffman. “We started construction on this new facility in September 2016 and our crews finished construction in fall of 2018,” said Hoffman. “The new substation replaces an outdated facility from the 1970s, and brings increased capacity to reliably meet the area’s current and future energy needs.”
Both representatives of East River Electric Cooperative remarked on the co-op’s longtime support of the ethanol industry. “We were happy to see Ringneck Energy locate in this region of the state,” said Hoffman.
When he took his turn at the microphone, Oahe Electric General Manager Rodney Haag noted “This sub is one of the first built with this design by East River. We can [manage] the sub from our computers and we can see what it’s doing.” Haag went on to comment about the dependability of the new substation, “The reliability has improved immensely for the City of Onida, Ringneck and our members.” Haag also referenced having two transformers, saying “You can carry load from one to the other.”
Ken Gillespie, President of the Oahe Electric Board of Directors commented that he is a “longtime member owner” and that Oahe is “committed to economic development” and that the co-op is “prepared to meet the needs of communities and to advancing communities.”
Ringneck Energy CEO Walt Wendlund praised the new substation’s redundancy, which is vital to smooth operations at the ethanol plant. “East River and Oahe Electric’s infrastructure was key to locating Ringneck Energy in Onida,” said Wendlund. “They’re the best in the industry, particularly in the area of redundancy.” Wendlund also commented on the Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) funds that contributed to the construction of 186th Street. “Not only was Oahe Electric here with electrical infrastructure, they also helped with improving this road.”
Brian Ring, President of Onida Area Development Corporation also commended the redundancy offered by the new power substation and the opportunity for economic development which comes with the new capacity. “This process of locating Ringneck Energy here started quite a few years back,” said Ring. “We’re glad to be able to partner very well with Oahe Electric to meet the energy requirements of Ringneck, and we hope to continue to see economic development as businesses piggy back on Ringneck’s investment.”
On behalf of the Onida Chamber of Commerce, President Marileen Tilberg thanked East River and Oahe for building the new upgraded substation. Tilberg also lauded “the perseverance of Walt and Janet Wendland and the Ringneck Board of Directors and investors. Ringneck Energy will grow the economy of Onida and Sully County, and we appreciate that.”
When the remarks concluded, members of the Onida Chamber amd OADC joined with the representatives of the other organizations to cut the ribbon on the new facility. After the ribbon had been cut, Studer offered refreshments to everyone in attendance.