South Dakota’s electric cooperatives applaud an interim committee of the South Dakota Legislature for supporting a framework for a compromise which has the potential to bring long-needed improvements to electric service territory disputes.
An exception in current state law allows the 35 municipal electric systems in South Dakota to take territory in newly annexed areas from electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. That exception has been the focus of the nine-member Electric Services in an Annexed area legislative summer study committee for the past five months.
The framework of the compromise that was adopted on an 8-1 vote by the legislative committee on November 6 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.
“The framework of a compromise that was overwhelmingly adopted by the legislative summer study committee is a good start to bring long-needed improvements to the state law governing electric service territory,” South Dakota Rural Electric Cooperative Association (SDREA) General Manager Ed Anderson said.
South Dakota electric cooperatives have been telling lawmakers for the past year that it is fundamentally unfair for municipal electric systems to have the option to take service territory from another utility. The proposal passed by the nine-member legislative committee provides a path forward to solve this problem.
“This legislative committee spent a lot of time and effort to adopt this plan and we would like to thank them for their work,” Anderson said.
South Dakota’s electric cooperatives would especially like to thank Sen. Alan Solano (R-Rapid City) for chairing the committee and Rep. Thomas Brunner (R-Nisland) for serving as vice-chair of the panel. Co-ops would also like to recognize Sen. Susan Wismer (D-Britton), Sen. Jordan Youngberg (R-Madison), Rep. Shawn Bordeaux (D-Mission), Rep. Kirk Chaffee (R-Whitewood), Rep. Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham), and Rep. Tim Reed (R-Brookings) for supporting the compromise.