gold shovels 1

FREE community training and workshop event

GROW South Dakota invites community organizations, municipalities, and county government representatives to attend a Community Appeal Workshop on September 10-11, 2014, at the Aberdeen Ramada Hotel and Convention Center.  This free community event is sponsored by The Bush Foundation and Northeast Council of Governments.  To register for this training event please CLICK HERE.

Craig Schroeder, Director of Youth Engagement at the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and Milan Wall, Co-Director of Heartland Center for Leadership Development will provide an interactive workshop that focuses on the regional issues of mindset and workforce/people attraction which are a starting point to addressing other key factors affecting our region.

The workshop outline will cover the following topics:

  • Clearly identifying our strongest people attraction assets based on the region’s community capitals framework.
  • Defining the target market that is most interested in what we have to offer.
  • Creating a compelling brand and message that authentically conveys our strongest assets to the target market.
  • Recruiting and training community ambassadors to host people who express interest in visiting or moving to our community or region.
  • Engaging with alumni and potential newcomers, emphasizing our target market, and staying connected with them to determine their hometown needs.
  • Proactively welcoming new residents and inviting them to become involved as active citizens and leaders.

The majority of the workshop will actively engage the participants in working through a series of activities on the above topics. Then building on these activities, participants will engage in the creation of community/regional action plans for recruiting and training community ambassadors. Each of the activities will be conducted with small group dialog using worksheets and group feedback to guide the participants along the path from an awareness of opportunities to action plans with defined next steps to move their work forward.

Schedule of Events:
September 10, 2013 – 1:00 pm-6:00 pm | Community Appeal Workshop (dinner will be served) and Introducttion to Prairie Idea Exchange by Dakotafire Media
September 11, 2013 – 8:00 am-12:00 pm |Community Appeal Workshop (Building Action Plans)

All events will be held at the Ramada Hotel & Convention Center of Aberdeen.  A block of rooms has been reserved for those attendees needing overnight accommodations.  Please mention GROW South Dakota when you are registering to receive the special event rate. For hotel reservations call (605) 225-3600.
If you have additional questions regarding the Community Appeal Workshop, please contact Paula Jensen at GROW South Dakota by email,, or by phone at 605-698-7654 Ext 133.

growSDGROW South Dakota strives to reach rural communities to improve the quality of life through housing, community and economic development.  Historically, these organizations have invested over $50 million in housing development and $54 million in economic development.  For more information about GROW South Dakota’s housing and business development programs and services please visit our website at or call 605-698-7654.

Like GROW South Dakota on Facebook or follow the organization on Twitter.


Remember to call 811 before digging on 8/11 and always

Today and every day, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission and the South Dakota One Call Board hope the date – 8/11 – will serve as a reminder for residents to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked.

According to the Common Ground Alliance, an underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck and laying a patio are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairperson Gary Hanson. “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried in your area.”

A call to 811 is required at least 48 hours prior to all digging projects, excluding weekends and holidays. The call is free and sets into motion a series of activities designed to preserve excavator safety and infrastructure integrity.

Erin Hayes, South Dakota One Call Board chairman and director of corporate construction for Midcontinent Communications, described the locate request process: “When an excavator calls 811, our trained call center representatives will contact the respective utilities who will dispatch personnel to mark their underground facilities at the dig site. Only after that has occurred can an excavator proceed with digging,” she explained.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. After utility operators have marked existing underground utilities, excavators are encouraged to dig with care.

Fair-goers visiting the PUC booth at the Brown County Fair, Aug. 12-17, in Aberdeen and the South Dakota State Fair, Aug. 28–Sept. 1, in Huron will have the opportunity to make the “811 Promise” and win prizes.

Visit for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.


Public power concerns shared at EPA power plants hearing

By Theresa Pugh, Director of Environmental Services, American Public Power Association
Published July 31, 2014 at

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed rule, under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled power plants. EPA hopes to release the final rule in June 2015 and is now accepting comments on the rule and holding public hearings across the country.

Yesterday, I shared the American Public Power Association’s perspective on the proposed rule at a public hearing in Washington, D.C. and reiterated our key concerns:

  • The proposal goes well beyond what is permissible under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d).
  • EPA is mandating specific CO2 reduction requirements for states, which is a problem because the proposed rule provides no role for states in setting or modifying those standards. States know best what they can do.
  • The proposed rule tries to do too much too fast. It is “front-loaded,” requiring most emission reductions by 2020. Coupled with stringent compliance requirements, the 2020 deadline does not give states enough time to come up with plans, have them approved by EPA, and achieve their reductions.
  • EPA claims it offers states “flexibility” but that’s just a myth. In constructing its “building blocks” to determine a state’s reduction requirement, EPA has relied on such aggressive assumptions that its severely limits state compliance options. The building blocks have actually become roadblocks to success.
  • States do not get full credit for actions they took to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures prior to 2012 [see our blog post on early action]. This penalizes states that have been “out in front” on emission reductions.
  • The reduction requirements for some states will force the premature closing of coal and natural gas-fired units, with heavy capital investment, that still have useful lives. And when fossil-fueled plants are shut down prematurely, reliable power supply — and customers’ electric bills — will feel the pain.
  • The state requirements do not take into account the fact that electricity demand is rising, thanks to population growth and an increase in energy-intensive manufacturing. Renewables and energy efficiency measures alone won’t be enough to meet the increasing demand for power.

APPA will continue to voice its concerns, submit written comments by the Oct. 16, 2014 deadline, and work to ensure that public power utilities are able to honor their commitment to keep the lights on at affordable prices, while continuing to care for the environment.

House Subcom E&P Whitfield

APPA shares Clean Power Plan concerns with House panel

This article appeared in the August 1, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily from the American Public Power Association. By Robert Varela.

APPA tells House panel of concerns about EPA’s proposed rule on carbon dioxide emissions of existing plants

The American Public Power Association (APPA) is very concerned about the potential impacts on public power utilities and their customers of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, the association told a House panel. The proposed emission reduction goals for some states “are unachievable and would require the early retirement of existing coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, which could result in stranded costs for utilities as well as local reliability impacts,” APPA said in a July 29 statement for a House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s perspective on the proposed rule.

The proposed rule for existing plants “goes beyond what is permissible under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act,” APPA said, adding that it “is disappointed that EPA has decided to set binding state emissions goals rather than leave it to the states to set individual limits that are achievable at the affected source—the electric generating unit.”

APPA cited a number of concerns about the proposed rule:

  • Front loading — most of the emission reductions are required by 2020 for many states
  • Early action — there is little or no credit for actions utilities have taken to reduce emissions prior to 2012
  • Dispatch assumptions — EPA assumes that most existing natural gas plants can operate at a 70 percent capacity factor, but state air permits limit the operation of many plants; states and utilities do not control dispatch in regional transmission organization regions; and it is not clear sufficient pipeline capacity exists.

EPA should have consulted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on all of those issues, but there appears to have been little communication between the FERC and the EPA on this proposed rule, especially regarding electric reliability, APPA told the subcommittee. EPA consistently claims that its slate of proposed rules on the electric utility industry will not hurt reliability, but the agency “has no expertise in electric utility operations, and seems not to have given appropriate deference to the experts, including FERC Commissioners and staff, who oversee the reliability of the bulk power system,” APPA said.

FERC has made commendable efforts to highlight the impacts of EPA’s slate of proposed rules, but APPA “is not aware that the agency was consulted in any comprehensive way by the EPA.”

FERC’s approach to the reliability issue “suffers from a major shortcoming — the Commission’s lack of any apparent will to reform the problematic features of mandatory capacity markets operated by” ISO New England, the New York ISO and PJM Interconnection. APPA and many others “have concluded that the basic mandatory capacity procurement construct is not a ‘market’ in any meaningful sense of the word. It is instead a centralized procurement, based on a heavily administered pricing structure, governed by thousands of pages of complex rules, that generally does not produce needed new resources,” the association said.

Implementation of EPA’s proposed rule will entail the construction of new low-carbon dioxide generation, such as nuclear and natural gas plants, but a recent study by Christensen Associates concluded that the RTO markets “do not and cannot address long-term capacity needs,” APPA said. The study also found that “the RTO markets include some design elements that impede long-term investments and long-term bilateral contracts.”

The failure to recognize this reality has kept FERC from adopting fundamental reforms, APPA said. Instead, the commission has agreed to rule changes, such as administratively imposed floor prices on new natural gas or even renewable generation, that “further increase costs and impede needed new resource development,” APPA said. “These capacity markets therefore will exacerbate the reliability and economic costs” of the proposed Clean Power rule.

 Photo: House Energy & Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (KY). Copyright/Courtesy House Energy & Commerce Committee,
2014-08-01 08.47.08 am

APPA produces newsreel reliability update

“Every hour of every day, utilities across the country are waging a war — a war on outages.”

So begins a new World War II-style video, produced by the American Public Power Association, that highlights APPA’s three “branches of intelligence” on reliability: the association’s Distribution System Reliability and Operations survey, the eReliability Tracker service, and the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) program. The video is posted on Public Power TV.

To watch, click HERE.