Municipal power groups form coalition to fight annexation

MADISON, S.D. (KXLG) — When the legislative interim committee on “Electric Services In An Annexed Area” Study Committee meets this Thursday in Pierre they can expect strong resistance for change from a coalition of municipal power groups. Heartland Consumers Power District, Missouri River Energy Services and the South Dakota Municipal Electric Association have formed the Coalition to Preserve Consumer Choice to resist any attempts by what they say is a shrinking rural electric customer base to target cities who are showing growth.

Spokesperson for the coalition is Heartland CEO Russell Olson who says the municipal electrics have given in over the years and repeatedly compensated the rural electrics for municipal territory expansion. He says if the rural electrics get their way a line would be drawn around the cities which will stymie economic growth.

Saying that it’s all about consumer choice, Olson says the coalition partners are locking their arms and holding the line this time.

Olson says the Coalition to Preserve Consumer Choice is working to protect the rights of consumers who choose to be served by the local utility where they can have an active role in how the utility is run. The group was created to advocate on behalf of the 35 locally owned, locally operated municipal electric utilities in the state.

Rural electric cooperatives have expressed continued concerns that municipal electrics are infringing on their territory and reducing their footprint in the rural areas of the state.