East River Electric co-op is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by all electric co-op members in our service territory. I am a member-owner of Bon Homme-Yankton Electric and B-Y is one of the owners of East River. I have a stake and equity in East River Electric, as does every other electric cooperative member in the region.
All the member coops that make up East River Coop have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure to serve Dakota Energy members with transmission services. Basin Electric has invested even more over the years in generation to serve those same members.
One question that remains open is how Dakota Energy will receive transmission service if they were to leave the East River family. East River isn’t obligated to provide them with transmission service. They will likely be left to negotiate a transmission “wheeling” rate (essentially a rental agreement to rent space on our transmission system … the system you and all other co-op members have invested in over the years). So, they’ll go from an owner of their transmission system to a likely renter.
Dakota Energy has signed a letter of intent with a for-profit energy broker from Denver called Guzman Energy. They want to profit off South Dakota consumers. Dakota Energy has the intent to buy from a for-profit energy broker than from a co-op they already own and have received millions back in patronage over the years.
If Dakota Energy is allowed to buy out of its contract, it could leave co-op members from Bon Homme-Yankton Electric Coop and all the other co-ops with higher costs because there will be fewer co-op members to share costs.
There is another downside for Dakota Energy. They’ll lose access to federal hydro power from the dams on the Missouri River, some of the lowest cost power available to cooperatives.
Dakota Energy will be exposed to the energy market if they go with Guzman Energy. We saw in Texas recently how consumers were exposed to potentially higher costs during times of high market pricing.
I ask that the Board of Directors and members of Dakota Energy support honoring their contract with East River Electric Co-op for the good of their cooperative and its members.