Man testifying at state legislature
Advocate

Advocate

Action Alert: Help us protect small-scale solar in South Dakota

Small-scale solar is under threat in the Black Hills. 

Black Hills Energy is asking the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to approve a “buy all, sell all” tariff on new customers who invest in distributed generation systems, such as solar panels, and want to be connected to the grid. This tariff essentially seizes control of private solar by blocking grid-tied customers from using the energy they generate through their systems.

Instead, Black Hills Energy wants to require these customers to sell 100% of the energy they generate back to the utility at a reduced rate of around 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), and then force them to buy back all of their energy, even what they generate themselves, at the retail rate, around 12 cents per kWh. 

Will you take a minute to let the SD Public Utilities Commission know that Black Hills Energy is proposing a step in the wrong direction? Comments can be submitted to the Commissioners by emailing puc@state.sd.us. Be sure to include that you are commenting on Docket EL21-0011.

Black Hills Energy claims that customers who self-generate aren’t paying their “fair share” to utilize the grid. That claim is false. The customers currently pay a fee to connect their systems to the grid and purchase any energy they consume from the grid at the standard retail rate. They also supply the utility with the excess renewable energy they produce at a low-cost, which is then used to service nearby customers.

Distributed generation provides important benefits to the grid such as reducing energy demand during peak hours which lowers the cost for everyone and provides greater reliability of electrical service. The proposed tariff would significantly increase energy costs for new solar owners, as well as increase payback times on their investment beyond the expected lifetime of the equipment. 

This proposal turns back the clock on clean energy expansion in South Dakota.

For more information, check out KELO News’ report: “How solar could go dark in South Dakota.” 

Thank you for making your voice known on this important issue.

Heidi Kolbeck-Urlacher
Policy Associate
605.240.0039
heidiku@cfra.org

State and national policy directly impact how we live. We always need advocates to speak up for rural America.

We work on a variety of issues, from rural development, to clean energy, to conservation and climate. When we work with supporters, we use the same general tools to advocate across our issues. This page outlines some general resources about tools and tactics we have found to be effective.

Are you willing to take action today? There are three ways you can help right now.

  • Make your voice heardCall, email, or write your elected officials. Keep their contact information handy. Legislation can move fast; be ready at a moment’s notice.
     
  • Step up and take actionWrite a letter to the editor. Speak out in your community. Attend a listening session. Testify at the state capitol. Tell us how you’re ready to step up to build a stronger, brighter rural future.
     
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Don’t forget to display confidence, enthusiasm, credibility, and commitment. One way to display credibility is telling your representative where you live, so they know you are a constituent in their district.

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How will these actions create change? The people you are reaching out to are lawmakers who need your vote to become elected or stay in office. As your representatives, their job is to shape policy on behalf of your interests.

If you would like to be involved in any of these activities: make phone calls, host meetings, meet with elected officials, write letters, or testify on important legislation, please contact us at info@cfra.org.

Your advocacy ensures your voice is heard on issues that matter most to you. Remember to always show respect to legislators and their staff members, regardless of where they stand on the issue.

For more information on how to be an advocate: