Dakota Energy looking to leave East River Electric

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 7:24 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Dakota Energy Cooperative, based in Huron, is looking to leave Madison-based East River Electric. Dakota Energy is filing a legal complain against East River, requesting an exit fee to withdraw from their membership in the cooperative.

In a statement to Dakota News Now, Dakota Energy says that it’s desire to withdraw from East River is due to rising costs for members, and wants to consider options elsewhere.

Our member-owners have faced nonstop price increases over the last 15 years, even though electricity rates across the country continue to go down. While Dakota Energy is required to purchase our power through East River Electric, much of the electricity they provide actually comes from a corporation outside of South Dakota. For two years, we’ve respectfully asked East River to honor their by-laws and provide us with a buyout number so we can consider what’s best for our member-owners. After no response and rate increases projected for years to come, we are left with no other option than to ask a jury to decide what’s fair.

Dakota Energy Cooperative statement to Dakota News Now.

Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer at East River Electric says the cooperative bases it’s price at-cost for members.

“As a cooperative, we’re all cost-based utilities. We’re not for profit entities. Any of the margins, the profits that an electric cooperative makes, actually go back to the members.” Studer says.

Dakota Energy is one of the founding members of East River Electric, currently made up of 24 member cooperatives and one municipal-owned electric system. Studer says each individual member in the co-op has an interest in keeping prices low, including Dakota Energy.

“They’ve invested in East River Electric, and they have an ownership stake in East River Electric.”

Dakota Energy serves customers primarily in Beadle, Hand and Hyde counties. Studer says if Dakota Energy does leave East River, it’s customers may end up paying more for their power.

“We have a long track record. 70 years of providing service affordably to the member-consumers out there in South Dakota. The uncertainty is what we’re most concerned about.”

There’s currently no timeline as to when this legal dispute will be settled.

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