High-voltage electrical power lines. (Anton Petrus/Getty Images)

$9 billion project aims to bridge east and west power grids, accelerate renewable energy

BY: - October 6, 2023

There are few wind turbines west of the Missouri River in South Dakota, and some experts say a lack of transmission lines is the main reason.  A group of energy consultants is raising money to study a potential project that could change that. The $9 billion transmission line would unite the eastern and western power […]

The headquarters of Dakota Energy in Huron. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Huron electric co-op members throw support behind pro-East River board members

BY: - August 29, 2023

Member-owners of a small electric distribution cooperative in eastern South Dakota have elected three new board members after a nearly three-year legal saga that saw the former leadership attempt to break off its contract with a Madison-based power supplier. It’s the second board election in as many years in which Dakota Energy’s member-owners opted to […]

High-voltage electrical power lines. (Anton Petrus/Getty Images)

Huron power struggle sets precedent for rural electric co-ops across US

BY: - August 11, 2023

In 2019, some board members of the rural electric cooperative Dakota Energy wanted to find out if they could get a better deal for wholesale power on the private market. Rates, and electric bills by extension, had doubled in 15 years for the 2,300 member-owners who pay the Huron-based co-op for electrical service. Wholesale costs […]

The Blue Creek wind farm, which spans Paulding and Van Wert counties in Ohio, consists of 152 wind turbines with a total capacity of 304 megawatts. (Robert Zullo/States Newsroom)

New federal rules could smooth the path for renewable power

BY: - July 28, 2023

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday finalized long-awaited new rules intended to reform how power generation projects get connected to the electric grid, seen as a major step in smoothing the path for thousands of mostly renewable power projects currently waiting to plug in. “This rule will ensure that our country’s vast generation resources […]

A worker moves coal at a coal-fired power plant on Feb. 1, 2019, in Romeoville, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Winter is coming and the U.S. grid remains vulnerable to power plant failures

BY: - July 22, 2023

From winter storms to sweltering summer heat, there’s a consensus among experts that increasing extreme weather, a shifting electric generation mix, delays in getting new power generation projects connected and the difficulties in getting new transmission lines and other infrastructure built all pose an increasing risk to the grid. At U.S. Senate committee hearings as […]

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Regulators to begin review of NorthWestern Energy’s proposed 16% rate increase

BY: - July 11, 2023

A company that provides electricity to 64,680 South Dakota customers wants to raise its rates by about 16%. South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission voted Tuesday to give itself six months to study the rate proposal. It would be a jump of $19.14 per month on an average residential customer’s bill, although the increase would affect […]

A sign displays the names of the state's three elected public utilities commissioners outside of their Pierre office in January 2023. (South Dakota Searchlight/Joshua Haiar)

Regulators reduce Xcel’s 18% electric rate hike to 6%

BY: - June 6, 2023

A state regulatory agency is limiting a utility company’s electric rate increase to about 6% after the company requested a nearly 18% rate hike. The change affects 97,500 South Dakota customers. The 18% rate hike has been temporarily in effect for the last six months after an initial deadline passed for the regulatory agency, the […]

Two loons swim with their chick on Clear Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer)

Decarbonization ambitions ignite debate over mining, permitting  

BY: - May 31, 2023

The decarbonized, electrified future envisioned by the Biden administration, state governments, automakers, utility companies and corporate sustainability goals depends to a huge degree on minerals and metals. Lots more lithium will be needed for car and truck batteries, as well as the big banks of batteries that are increasingly popping onto the electric grid to […]

Flip flop sandals are left behind as visitors make their way into the water for relief from the heat at the Wet-N-Wild Water Park on June 20, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

With summer coming fast, regulator issues electric reliability warning

BY: - May 19, 2023

As much as two thirds of North America could face shortages of electricity this summer in the event of severe and protracted heat, according to the regulator in charge of setting and enforcing standards for the electric grid.  “Increased, rapid deployment of wind, solar and batteries have made a positive impact,” said Mark Olson, manager […]

The Blue Creek wind farm, which spans Paulding and Van Wert counties in Ohio, consists of 152 wind turbines with a total capacity of 304 megawatts. (Robert Zullo/States Newsroom)

Rural electric co-ops to get $10.7B in USDA funds for clean energy grants, loans

BY: - May 16, 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin to administer two loan and grant programs worth nearly $11 billion to boost clean energy systems in rural areas, administration officials said Tuesday. Congress approved the federal spending — $9.7 billion for a grant and loan program the department is calling the New Empowering Rural America program, or […]

The Intervenor: Lone customer enters procedural fray over gas and electric rates

BY: - April 15, 2023

As an unassuming and good-natured retiree, Steve Wegman might not seem like the type to make headlines. But he did recently, as the only “intervenor” participating in the state’s two ongoing utility rate adjustment cases with MidAmerican Energy and Xcel Energy. MidAmerican wanted to raise customers’ natural gas bills by just over 6% but was […]

Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on Feb. 16, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

After a series of winter storms, regulators approve new standards for power plants

BY: - February 22, 2023

Two years after Winter Storm Uri, which caused a massive power failure in Texas that caused more than 200 deaths, and just two months after another storm, Elliott, forced blackouts in parts of the South, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved new extreme cold reliability standards for power plants.  However, the vote last week […]