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Register now for webinars on utility governance

American Public Power Association is offering a nine-webinar series beginning in February for public power board and city council members on electric utility governance. The series kicks off with “Public Power’s Unique Business Model and Governance Structure” on February 12.

All webinars take place 1:00-2:30 p.m. CST. The webinars can be taken individually or as a series for a discounted rate. The series includes:

  1. Public Power’s Unique Business Model and Governance Structure; February 12
  2. Legal Obligations, Duties and Responsibilities of Public Power Governing Boards; March 26
  3. Federal Legislative and Regulatory Issues for Boards; April 14
  4. Industry Issues and Challenges Facing Public Power Governing Bodies; May 6
  5. Overview of Utility Financial Operations for Board and Council Members; June 16
  6. Rate Making for Utility Boards and City Councils; July 14
  7. Strategic Planning for Utility Boards and City Councils; August 12
  8. Performance Monitoring and Accountability for Boards; September 10
  9. Achieving Excellence in Public Power Governance; October 22

Featured speakers include Mark Beauchamp, president of Utility Financial Solutions, Dr. Jeff Tarbert, president and CEO of The Tarbert Group, LLC, and Joy Ditto, senior vice president of legislative and political affairs for APPA, among others. The webinars were developed primarily for those who are new to public power governance responsibilities, but individuals who have served for a number of years on public power city councils and/or utility boards, or utility staff who regularly work with utility governing bodies, may also find these sessions beneficial.

For more information and to register, click HERE.

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Energy efficiency for residential and small business customers, courtesy APPA

Public power utilities can bulk order two energy efficiency booklets from American Public Power Association for distribution to their customers.  Available at the APPA Product StoreEnergy Matters for Your Home and Energy Matters for Your Small Business are available at HALF PRICE for APPA members, including Heartland customers.

Energy Matters for Your Home provides residential customers with practical, energy and cost-saving advice. Written with public power customers in mind, this publication is perfect for large-scale distribution to your customers. Along with top tips for saving energy, the booklet highlights key areas, including home weatherization, heating and cooling, lighting and appliances. The booklet also contains references to other resources that your customers can access to obtain additional energy-efficiency information.

Energy Matters for Your Small Business is filled with useful, easy-to-digest information, including top tips for saving energy, understanding energy use, weatherization, lighting, HVAC, office equipment and much more. Whether it is a small office or complex operation, this publication will show your small business customers the benefits of energy management. It is in your utility’s best interests to ensure the long-term viability of small business owners in your community by encouraging energy-efficient and cost-saving practices.

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In case you missed it: Living like family in Langford

In July, the city of Langford, SD was the featured community on the rural revival blog, Dakotafire. “Living like family in Langford” details the city’s “small-town feeling,” community spirit, traditions, support for local youth, growing need for housing, and more.

For the full post, click HERE.

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Dakotafire is a new journalism project that pools the resources of community newspapers and rural experts to report on issues of importance to rural communities in the James River watershed area of North and South Dakota.

The “common voice” of Dakotafire is intended to help all the people of the region, which is similar in topography and population demographics but stretches over 22,000 square miles and crosses a state border, see one another as allies in facing common challenges and opportunities. The information Dakotafire provides is designed to spark discussion, to challenge conventional thinking and to get people to consider alternative possibilities. Dakotafire.net as well as its presence on Facebook and Twitter will serve as a conversation space for the region’s people.

On Twitter: @Dakotafiremedia

Photo by Troy McQuillen

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EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan wrong for South Dakota, PUC says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants will have harmful results on the reliability and affordability of electricity in South Dakota if implemented as it is currently written, warned the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. The PUC responded to the EPA’s call for comments to its Clean Power Plan by thoroughly analyzing the proposal, discussing effects with South Dakota stakeholders and submitting extensive written comments to the federal agency this month. Those comments can be read on the PUC’s website at www.PUC.SD.gov/energy/111dcomments.aspx

In mid-June of this year the EPA rolled out its proposed rule to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act §111(d). The agency initially opened a comment period until mid-October for the myriad parties that would be affected by the complex rule to share their concerns. The EPA extended the comment period to Dec. 1, after receiving feedback from numerous parties about the compressed timeline. The EPA expects to finalize the rule by June 1, 2015. States will be required to submit their plans on how to comply with the rule by June 30, 2016. The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be responsible for compiling and filing the state plan with the EPA.

In its proposed rule, the EPA specifies carbon reduction goals for the state that are based on national or regional averages with no consideration for the production and dispatch of energy in South Dakota that crosses state boundaries. The existing power plants in South Dakota targeted by the EPA’s proposal are the Big Stone Plant, a coal-fired plant near Milbank jointly operated by Otter Tail Power Co., NorthWestern Energy and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; and Deer Creek Station, a natural gas combined cycle plant near Elkton owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The EPA’s proposal does not give credit for carbon-free electricity generated by hydropower plants located along the Missouri River in South Dakota.

PUC Commissioners Gary Hanson, Chris Nelson and Kristie Fiegen are unified in their opposition to the EPA’s proposed plan and in supporting the comments the PUC has filed. Paramount among their concerns are the proposal’s use of flawed assumptions and suggestions of carbon emission reductions that are not technically feasible, resulting in dramatic increases in the cost of electricity to consumers and a reckless disregard for electric reliability.

The PUC’s written comments focus on four primary elements: educating the EPA about South Dakota’s electric industry; identifying concerns with EPA’s short compliance timeline; identifying technical issues with the building blocks EPA has specified for states to use to comply with the Clean Power Plan; and providing economic impacts forecasted for South Dakota.

“The EPA’s proposal will be destructive to our economy,” said PUC Chairman Hanson. “I agree that environmental prudence should be part of national energy policy. I also firmly believe that energy must be affordable and reliable. I am frustrated that the EPA’s plan obviously bypasses essential facts about South Dakota’s reality. If the plan is unchanged, our state’s consumers will pay dearly,” he concluded.

“I believe the comments the PUC submitted to the EPA do a great job of stating why the EPA’s proposal is unrealistic and unattainable for South Dakota without significant cost,” stated PUC Vice Chairman Nelson. “This plan concerns me to the core and the PUC will continue to do all that we can to moderate its impact to South Dakota consumers, farmers and business people,” Nelson said.

“South Dakota is known for its common sense approach to challenges and changes,” commented Commissioner Fiegen. “Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t place common sense very high on its priority scale, as reflected in this proposed plan. It is important that South Dakota energy consumers know that the PUC will continue to dig our heels in and advocate for rational and reasonable solutions on their behalf,” she said.

The PUC hosted a forum in July 2014 to discuss the proposed Clean Power Plan with representatives of South Dakota’s electric industry, the EPA and the state’s congressional delegation. Access presentations and recordings of the forum at www.PUC.SD.gov/energy/111dcomments.aspx