July 31, 2020
Written By: Tom Johnson
When it comes to electricity, Marc Eyre goes bigger than the rest of us.
Eyre doesn’t just think about light bulbs. He thinks about hundreds of thousands of light bulbs, all at once—enough to keep the region supplied with electricity for decades to come.
“In our commitment to the customers we serve,” says Eyre, “we can’t wait until the lights go out.”
Eyre should know. As an electrical engineer and the Vice President of Operations for Black Hills Energy’s South Dakota Division, the 13-year company veteran has seen what Black Hills energy means to the area, the region, and the country.
In 2018, Eyre, a father of five, relocated his family to Rapid City and hasn’t looked back since. And looking forward, Eyre sees great things for Black Hills Energy and the region.
It’s why the company recently decided to rebuild an 8-mile section of its transmission network here in Rapid City, connecting its South Rapid power station to its North Rapid Power station. Once complete, it will not only strengthen the local grid, but ensure economic growth in the region.
The original line was installed nearly 55 years ago in 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson was President. And while the line still functions, the planning processes for the rebuild has been years in the making.
The project has two stages. The first stage, which begins construction in September, is a two-mile long section starting north of I-90 and ending just north of Omaha street. The second phase, a six-mile section that runs along Mountain View road and connects with its South Rapid energy site, will likely begin in November and be complete by March of 2021.
Eyre, who also has a passion for protecting the beauty of Rapid City and the Black Hills, is quick to point how sensitive Black Hills Energy is to the local environment. “We’re really conscious of the environment and the impact we have there,” says Eyre. “This being an existing line, the rights-of-way are already trimmed and have vegetation management [in place].”
As the area continues to grow, the project will add additional value to the local economy. The rebuild the will create about 75 jobs job during construction and create hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional payroll in the community.
But perhaps more important are the long-term benefits to Eyre and Black Hills Energy. As Eyre notes, “Reliable energy is one of the first resources a new or expanding business looks for.”