GOED offers training for new economic development practitioners

The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is offering a four-hour workshop for new economic development practitioners Thursday, April 16 in Sioux Falls. Attendees will learn about the economic development landscape in South Dakota as well as gain an overview of the GOED and the services it provides. Staff members from the various GOED departments will also be on hand to answer questions, including finance, research, community development, business development, and marketing and public relations.

The full agenda is available here: GOED Overview Agenda.

A similar workshop will also be held September 1 in Pierre. To register for either event, email Rachel Graves at Rachel.Graves@state.sd.us.

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

South Dakota’s 125th Anniversary

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

On Nov. 2, 1889, at 2:40 p.m., President Benjamin Harrison signed South Dakota into statehood. Before signing the statehood proclamations for the two Dakotas, President Harrison instructed Secretary of State James Blaine to cover both proclamations under a sheet of paper. President Harrison signed both, and then shuffled them again so that no one, not even the President, knew which proclamation was signed first.

One hundred twenty-five years later, I can’t help but be proud of all we have accomplished.

Our farmers and ranchers survived the Dust Bowl, withstood blizzards, droughts and floods, and built an agricultural economy that is as strong as it has ever been.

This is the place where Gutzon Borglum and Korczak Ziolkowski found their stone canvases; where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in her “Little Town on the Prairie”; and where Kevin Costner let the world see the pride and culture of the Lakota people, against the backdrop of South Dakota’s breathtaking landscapes in “Dances with Wolves.”

This is the place where a well-digger named Peter Norbeck created one of the nation’s best state parks; where a quiet professor named George McGovern became a candidate for president and an advocate for the hungry; and where a high school dropout named Bill Janklow connected our schools to the Internet and made a university in Madison a leader in cybersecurity.

Our history is one of perseverance. In overcoming obstacles, we don’t merely survive; we prosper and achieve beyond anyone’s expectations. This is something country singer Kyle Evans understood when he composed a special tribute to our state twenty-five years ago. He wrote:

Where horses traveled dusty trails, fancy cars now drive on superhighways,
Where one-room cabins used to stand, modern high rise buildings line the skyways,
Where there once was just a mountain, today there are faces carved in stone,
And they represent the freedom of this South Dakota land we call home.

Let us never take for granted this lifestyle unequalled in this land,
Where a friend is still a true friend, always there to lend a helping hand,
Where religion is still our guideline and Old Glory will always be unfurled,
Where you’ll find old-fashioned values in a fast-moving modern day world.

As Mr. Evans perceived, our state has changed a lot since President Harrison signed that important document. But South Dakotans are still the same at heart – our values, work-ethic and neighborliness still remain. That’s what makes our state exceptional.

So let’s pause today to celebrate what we’ve already achieved; and tomorrow we’ll continue the trek forward in building upon what our forefathers began.

Happy birthday South Dakota!

South Dakota statehood celebration scheduled for November 1

A special event at the State Capitol to celebrate South Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood will feature a performance by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

The event will also include the rededication and lighting ceremony for the newly restored stained glass in the Capitol. The project to restore the historic stained glass skylights that began last year is expected to be completed in September when the final restored panels will return to the Capitol.

The statehood celebration event will take place at 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Nov. 1.

The event will be open and free to the public. General admission seating will be available with a ticketed reservation. The details and availability date for reserving seating tickets will be made available in the future. Standing room only will be available on the marble grand staircase and in the balconies above the rotunda floor.

Other Events on Nov 1:

First Lady Inaugural Gown Exhibit Rededication
A rededication of the newly refurbished First Ladies Inaugural Gown exhibit is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on the first floor. The event is free and open to the public.

Trail of Governors Statues Unveiling
The unveiling of the three latest statues of former governors by the Trail of Governors is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the rotunda. The event is free and open to the public.

Quilting Demonstration
The Stately Stitchers quilting club are hosting a quilting demonstration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lutheran Memorial Church.

The public is invited to help make quilted ornaments which will be used to decorate one of the Capitol Christmas Trees later that month. The theme of the Capital Christmas Trees is 125 Years of Christmas in South Dakota.

Heartland faces challenges from EPA

By Chuck Clement, Staff Reporter, Madison Daily Leader
The following article appeared on the front page of the August 29, 2014 issue of the Madison Daily Leader:

Heartland faces challenges from EPA

Emissions goals pose challenges; electric rate increases likely

The provider of about half of the electricity used by Madison’s electric utility customers has concerns about reaching the carbon-dioxide emissions reductions proposed by the EPA earlier this summer.

John Knofczynski, engineering manager at Heartland Consumers Power District, offered a presentation on Thursday to fellow members of the municipal Electric Advisory Committee that outlined the challenges one of Madison’s electricity suppliers faces if the current federal proposals remain the same.

Knofczynski warned that the current options for meeting a 35-percent reduction of South Dakota’s carbon dioxide emissions would mean a major restructuring of HCPD’s electricity supply and most likely higher costs to consumers.

Knofczynski said the EPA had an overall goal to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions across the nation by 30 percent less than 2012 levels. The EPA wants to reach that goal by 2030, but federal officials also have interim target levels that they want the states to reach by 2020.

The EPA has proposed that the states use four building blocks in the reduction plans: heat-rate improvements at existing power plants; substituting coal-based electricity with natural gas combined-cycle electricity generation; substituting renewable electricity generation; and demand-side (consumer) energy efficiency measures.

Knofczynski said that South Dakota only has one natural gas generation plant currently available, the Deer Creek Station owned by Basin Electric Power Cooperative. He said the Deer Creek Station would need to operate at more than a 70-percent capacity factor to offset generation losses from the coal-fired Big Stone Power Plant.

He also said under current EPA policies, electricity providers will not receive any credit for supporting renewable energy production that was active before the carbon-dioxide reduction policies go into effect.

Knofczynski told the advisory committee members that the EPA’s building blocks offered little in practical solutions to South Dakota consumers.

In his presentation, Knofczynski listed Heartland’s three primary electric power resources:

  • Whelan Energy Center Unit 2 near Hastings, Neb., which has a 225-megawatt (MW) output from its coal-fired generation plant. HCPD has 35-percent ownership equaling 82 MW; however EPA officials gave Nebraska a 26-percent reduction target.
  • Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyo., a three-unit, 1,710-MW coal-fired plant in which HCPD has a 3-percent share equaling 51 MW. Wyoming has a 19-percent reduction target, but Laramie Station is also currently managing a regional haze mandate made by federal officials.
  • Wessington Springs Wind Energy Center in South Dakota, consisting of 34 wind turbines providing 51 MW in total capacity. Heartland has purchased the full output from the wind farm since it went into service in February 2009.

Persons can send public comments by mail, e-mail or fax with the deadline on Oct. 16. All comments need to include the federal government’s docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the message’s subject line.

The comments are mailed to Environmental Protection Agency; EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mailcode 28221T, Attn. Docket ID OAR-2013-0602; 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.

Persons can e-mail comments to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov or fax them to 202-566-9744.