August 19, 2019

Letter to the Editor - Daily Leader Extra : Letters To The Editor

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Letter to the Editor

Editor, The Daily Leader:

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Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2019 2:38 pm

The state's rural electric cooperatives introduced a bill during the 2019 legislative session proposing to freeze electric service territory, preventing cities who operate their own electric utilities from providing service within their growing boundaries.

The bill sparked much controversy, ultimately being remanded to a summer study where the issue could be thoroughly studied. The first meeting takes place in Pierre July 25.

The Coalition to Preserve Consumer Choice was formed to advocate on behalf of cities that operate an electric utility, such as Madison, during this process.

When a city grows, consumers should not be denied their right to choose to be served by their locally-owned utility. Annexations occur because residents and businesses ask to be part of the city in order to take advantage of all city services, including electric. Rural cooperatives should not have a monopoly over all new electric load in the state.

A territory freeze would result in higher costs for consumers and deter new businesses from locating in our state. It would also lead to less transparency as cooperatives are not required to hold open meetings. Municipal utilities are owned and operated by the people they serve and hold open meetings where the public can be heard.

South Dakotans deserve better than one-sided legislation designed to fully benefit private interests while stripping away the rights of the public.

Russell Olson

Chair, Coalition to

Preserve Consumer Choice

Madison, July 22