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State House advances bill to alleviate utility disputes

FEMA is reimbursing Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative through its Public Assistance Program. (Pixabay)
FEMA is reimbursing Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative through its Public Assistance Program. (Pixabay)(WJHG)
Published: Feb. 27, 2020 at 9:00 AM CST
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The South Dakota House has passed a bill to deal with the dispute between rural electrics and municipal utilities.

Rural electric cooperatives are unhappy with municipal electrics taking

over service areas when their city expands. The rural coops had been pushing for a freeze.

Dakota Radio Group reports a compromise measure - House Bill 1262 -- would require a meeting between the two sides to negotiate fees and any other disputes. If a deal can't be reached, it could go to the courts. The bill says the circuit court would have the final say and there is no further appeal.

Representative David Anderson of Hudson is the bill's sponsor. He says

this has been a battle and not everyone is happy, but believes the bill is a good compromise.

Representative Tim Reed of Brookings spoke against the bill. He says it

could stifle economic development, and had these provisions been in

place, Bel Brands probably would not have come to Brookings.

Representative Thomas Brunner of Nisland backed the rural electrics. He says it will not kill economic development.

The bill passed 48-20 and now heads to the Senate.

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