Dakota Energy hosts town hall as legal dispute with East River Electric continues

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 11:37 PM CDT
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HURON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Dakota Energy Cooperative members looking for answers to why it’s trying to leave East River Electric got a chance to listen and ask questions Thursday night, in a town hall meeting at the State Fairgrounds in Huron.

Dakota Energy CEO Chad Felderman said there’s been a lot of information floating around about the legal dispute, and they wanted to address members directly.

“The only thing we’ve been asking is fair, equitable exit fee number. And we want to give some information to our members, just to answer some questions they may have.” Felderman said.

Dakota Energy has stated that they want to leave East River due to rising costs, and have sued to get an exit fee to withdraw from the cooperative. Dakota Energy has also indicated that they would buy power from Colorado-based Guzman Energy. But East River states that could leave members uncertain about the future.

“The biggest questions is, do Dakota Energy members want to exit a contract that they just signed a few years ago, to go with an out of state, for-profit energy broker.” said East River Electric Chief Member and Public Relations Officer Chris Studer.

Guzman Energy CEO Chris Riley said while there’s many questions about what the future could mean for Dakota Energy members, the first step is trying to find out what that exit fee will cost.

“The question at hand isn’t weather to leave or not leave. The question at hand is what do the economics look like? What is Dakota Energy’s obligation to East River? And they need that information in order to decide whether it’s something they want to look at or not.” said Riley.

But many members still had questions about what would happen if Dakota Energy got that number. Dakota Energy member Gary Wegter said even with all the information presented, he and others are still uncertain what will happen should Dakota Energy leave East River Electric.

“And I understand that it’s a very good first step. Because without that, probably not much else can be done, or go one. But I do think the numbers and types of questions that were presented tonight, at least the ones that I could understand, indicated that there was a tremendous amount of follow-on information that attendees wanted.” said Wegter.

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