December 8, 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, December 3, 2019 3:31 pm

We want to thank District 8 Sen. Jordan Youngberg for agreeing with South Dakota's electric cooperatives and supporting a proposal that will finally bring long-needed improvements to the state law which regulates electric service territory boundaries.

We believe Sen. Youngberg's vote for the compromise package that was recently adopted by a legislative committee in November is a vote for fairness for electric consumers.

Throughout the summer, the South Dakota Legislature's Electric Services in an Annexed Area Interim Committee met to examine an exception in state law that gives municipally-owned electric systems the option to take service territory from incumbent utilities, like Sioux Valley Energy, when a city annexes new property.

State law establishes territory boundaries for all electric utilities to protect consumers, facilitate efficient long-term planning of the electric grid and avoid costly duplication of service and infrastructure.

However, the exception that gives South Dakota's 35 municipal electric systems the option to take over service territory in newly-annexed areas is unfair to the rural consumers left behind.

Rural electric cooperatives like Sioux Valley Energy and investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy can't take territory away from municipals, so the exception allowing municipal utilities to take territory from co-ops and IOUs should be eliminated to provide a level playing field.

The compromise language that was adopted on an 8-1 vote would require regular meetings and good faith negotiations between all utilities involved in electric service territory boundaries in newly annexed areas.

The compromise framework further states that if the utilities cannot negotiate an agreement as to who will serve the newly annexed areas, the Public Utilities Commission would settle the dispute.

South Dakota's electric utilities (cooperatives, investor-owned utilities and municipals) have negotiated, with the help of the legislative summer committee, a workable solution that levels the playing field for all electric utilities. We appreciate Sen. Youngberg's support of this compromise that brings fairness to this issue.

Tim McCarthy, CEO/General Manager, Sioux Valley Energy

Tom Boyko, CEO/General Manager, East River Electric Power Cooperative

Madison, Dec. 2