Electric co-ops provide certainty in uncertain times

Farm Forum

PIERRE – South Dakota’s electric cooperatives gathered in Pierre Jan. 10 and 11 for the South Dakota Rural Electric Association’s 71st annual meeting. During the meeting, the 317 cooperative leaders, which represented each of the state’s 31 electric cooperatives, heard presentations that focused on grassroots advocacy, the importance of an energized cooperative culture and other aspects impacting electric cooperatives.

On Thursday, cooperative directors attended an “In the Boardroom” training session presented by NRECA focusing on Planning Among Regulatory Uncertainty. A session on the importance of grassroots advocacy was also held, which included a state legislative update prior to the evening’s Legislative Dinner, which saw more than 420 people attend.

“This year will be a great opportunity to know the new legislators,” said SDREA board president Don Heeren. “Our Co-op Day at the Capitol on Feb. 26 will provide an additional occasion for co-op members, directors and employees to get to know our lawmakers and become more familiar with the legislative process.”

The importance of co-op members being involved in their cooperatives was stressed by SDREA’s general manager.

“There is so much going on in our industry right now that these meetings take on special meaning,” said SDREA general manager Ed Anderson. “Bringing electric co-op leaders from around the state to discuss issues and spend time with their local legislators adds tremendous value to our organization.”

Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke to the group on Friday morning and commended their work in the state.

“You go the extra mile for your members and you’re persistent. We, as a state, need to be persistent in solving our budget issues,” said Daugaard.

On Friday morning, representatives of Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem spoke to the group and gave an update on issues from a national perspective.

Board Reorganizes – Following the meeting, the board of directors held its re-organizational meeting. Southeastern Electric director Don Heeren of Parker was re-elected as the association’s president while Lacreek Electric director Butch Livermont of Martin was re-elected as the association’s vice president. West River Electric director Bill Bielmaier of Wall was re-elected secretary of the association and West Central Electric director D.J. Mertens of Kennebec was elected as the association’s treasurer.

About South Dakota’s Electric Cooperatives – South Dakota’s electric cooperatives provide electricity to more than 114,000 homes, farms and businesses in the state, averaging only 2.37 consumers per mile of line. SDREA is a member-owned, member-controlled association of 31 electric cooperatives in South Dakota.

South Dakota Co-ops


During the 71st South Dakota Rural Electric Association annual meeting, numerous South Dakotans were recognized for their dedication to the electric cooperative program in the state.

SDREA’s 28 electric cooperative distribution systems and three generation and transmission electric cooperatives serve nearly 300,000 people across 90 percent of South Dakota’s land mass. These systems are member-owned utilities established to provide at-cost electric service to more than 114,000 farms, homes, schools, churches, businesses and other establishments across the state.

Each of the 31 SDREA member cooperatives selects a director from their local board, which is elected by the cooperative’s membership, to repre