Certainty in uncertain times

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Farm Forum

PIERRE – South Dakota’s electric cooperatives gathered in Pierre Jan. 15 and 16 for the South Dakota Rural Electric Association’s 73rd annual meeting. During the meeting, 325 cooperative leaders, which represented each of the state’s 31 electric cooperatives, gathered to discuss issues facing electric cooperatives on a state and federal level.

On Thursday, co-op leaders heard presentations about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed 111(d) rules to the Clean Air Act. They also discussed pending state legislation that may impact cooperatives this session.

On Thursday evening, cooperatives hosted legislators and other elected officials at the SDREA Legislative Dinner, which saw more than 450 people attend.

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

Gov. Dennis Daugaard spoke to the group on Friday and talked about the importance of co-ops facing challenges.

Cooperatives also heard updates on safety issues, financial issues facing cooperatives and on distributed generation challenges and opportunities.

“Working together, we collectively will face these challenges and find the opportunities to provide the service our members expect and demand,” said SDREA board president Don Heeren.

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

“Face the challenges and look ahead to yet identified opportunities, realizing that as in the past, the best chance of success will come from working together,” said SDREA general manager Ed Anderson.

Board Reorganizes

During the meeting four new directors were seated on the SDREA board. Joining the board are:

Lacreek Electric Association director Donovan Young Man of Oglala who replaces Marion Schultz of Batesland in representing the Martin, S.D., cooperative.

Lake Region Electric Association director Rodney Tobin of Pierpont who replaces Jason Medhaug of Veblen in representing the Webster, S.D., cooperative.

Northern Electric Cooperative director Mike McHugh of Aberdeen who replaces Kurt Bindenagel of Frankfort in representing the Bath, S.D., cooperative.

Oahe Electric Cooperative director Ross Sperry of Blunt who replaces Jake Weischedel of Pierre in representing the Blunt, S.D., cooperative.

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 Grand Electric director John Long of Red Owl 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 115,500 homes, farms and businesses in the state, averaging only 2.42 consumers per mile of line. In all, the state’s electric cooperatives provide electricity to 328,000 South Dakotans.

SDREA is a member-owned, member-controlled association of 31 electric cooperatives in South Dakota. SDREA is devoted to unifying, promoting and protecting the interests of member electric cooperatives in South Dakota by providing leadership, training, communication, legislative representation and other member services.