PIERRE – The South Dakota Rural Electric Association (SDREA) held its 82nd annual meeting on Jan. 11-12 in Pierre with more than 300 electric cooperative leaders in attendance. Nearly 100 lawmakers took part in the association’s legislative dinner.
“Powering the Prairie” was the meeting theme that summarized a full slate of informative industry-related discussions and programs that covered a variety of topics, including key state and federal legislative issues, electric grid reliability, implications of the current political climate and lessons in member-focused leadership.
“Energy demand is growing at an every-increasing rate,” said Don Heeren, SDREA’s board president, during his annual address. “Data centers, electric vehicle growth, technology linked to heating and cooling our homes, and agricultural energy needs are all pressuring the energy grid. This trend is set to grow dramatically in coming years.”
Steve Barnett, SDREA’s general manager, commented, “South Dakota’s electric cooperatives are focused on providing reliable and affordable energy with every tool at their disposal and a diverse energy portfolio. We are supporting sustainable energy and approaching energy production with common sense and credibility.”
The challenges and opportunities that South Dakota’s electric cooperatives face in ensuring prosperity for co-op members and their communities were thoroughly discussed during the two-day event.
“As member-owned, member-controlled organizations, we continually strive to improve the quality of life across our state and every community we serve,” said Barnett. “Cooperative membership has value.”
Attendees heard compelling presentations from industry leaders as well as from Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson who provided updates on federal legislative issues they are facing in Congress.