CEO’s Report: New opportunities and challenges in the New Year

The year 2018 was one for the record books at Heartland. While I’m excited for the new year and what it will bring, I am still in awe of everything we were able to accomplish last year, giving way to a bright future for our customers.

While I could talk forever about our past achievements, it’s time to look forward. The new year promises to bring more success for Heartland and our customers. In fact, not even a full week into 2019, we were able to announce one of the biggest projects ever to come to South Dakota, welcoming trū Shrimp to Madison.

However, the new year will also bring new challenges. One challenge we see on the horizon is legislation that we believe may be introduced in South Dakota by electric cooperatives that will propose to freeze electric service territory, an infringement on existing state statute.

Annexation allows for new customers to be fully part of each community. If the city is expected to extend other services such as sewer, water and roads, they should be allowed to provide full city services, including electricity, to everyone within their growing boundaries.

This is not the first time the cooperatives have proposed this type of legislation. In the past, compromises have been reached that stretched the bounds of what is good for cities and their services.

Cooperatives, who have three times the electric load as the 34 municipal electric utilities in the state, are justly compensated when territory is annexed, and yet continually seek to add municipal service territory at the expense of the cities. This continued attempt would unfairly expand their original province of providing electricity to rural areas.

Heartland has long been a partner to our customers in economic development, setting the stage for future growth. For years, we have offered grants, rebates, low-interest financing and other incentives to help our customers prosper.

Our ultimate goal is to create economic stability and maintain a superior quality of life for our customers and your residents.

If service territory is frozen, impeding growth in communities, the impacts will be far reaching. If municipal utilities can’t capitalize on growth in their own communities, costs will rise, which ultimately affects every other municipal utility in the state.

We are all going to have to work together to ensure this attempt to infringe on municipal electric system’s right to annex is not accomplished.

The effort starts with reaching out to your local legislators and asking them not to support any legislation designed to deny growth of communities with municipal electric systems. Messages are better heard when sent by the very people who will be affected by the legislation.

Heartland will be working diligently to fight this effort. When speaking with legislators, encourage them to reach out to any of our lobbyists, Drew Duncan, Dennis Duncan, Matt McCaulley, Grace Beck or Bill Van Camp with questions.

It is Heartland’s vision to be a trusted leader and partner of choice in the delivery of competitively priced electricity while adding value to the communities we serve. These are the times we make that vision a reality.

We are ready to stand up for our customers’ rights and look forward to working with each of you to ensure your future success is not threatened.