PIERRE Officials for South Dakota Oilseeds Processing want their proposed plant in Hand County to buy electricity from investor-owned NorthWestern Energy rather than Dakota Energy Cooperative, the member-owned rural electric co-op which serves the area.

The switch requires approval from the state Public Utilities Commission because the plant site is within the service territory assigned to Dakota Energy. State law sets the territories for electricity providers and allows the PUC to grant exceptions.

A joint petition from the oilseeds company and NorthWestern is pending. Dakota Energy received status this week as an intervener in the PUC proceedings on the petition.

Don Petersen of Mitchell, an attorney for Dakota Energy, said the co-op is willing and able to supply the power to the plant. He said no decision has been made yet whether Dakota Energy will officially object to the oilseeds company's petition for a territory exemption.

Lawyers for the oilseeds company and NorthWestern said their clients have reached a proposed agreement for NorthWestern to serve the plant, which will need more than 2,000 kilo-watts of juice.

Territory exemptions aren't uncommon. Earlier this year, NorthWestern agreed to allow Clay-Union Electric Corporation to supply power to a Midcontinent Communications booster station in Yankton County within NorthWestern's territory.

In another recent instance, Otter Tail Power Company agreed that Kingsbury Electric Cooperative should supply temporary electric service to Midstate Agronomy at DeSmet. The business is within Otter Tail's territory but Kingsbury Electric has a service line 500 feet west of the site.

Otter Tail plans to eventually deliver permanent service to Midstate as well as a proposed residential development nearby.

A half-dozen territory exemptions came before the PUC last year.

REDI member

Gov. Mike Rounds has appointed Michael Luken of Watertown to the state Board of Economic Development. Luken succeeds Mark Amundson on the board, whose primary responsibility is making loans from the state's Revolving Economic Development Initiative (REDI) fund.

Water news

The governor reappointed three members of the state Board of Water Management, the panel which oversees water rights and permits in South Dakota.

Receiving new terms until June 30, 2012, are Rodney Freeman Jr. of Huron, Jim Hutmacher of Oacoma and Bernita Loucks of Rapid City.

The governor also reappointed his father, Don Rounds of Pierre, to another term on the state Board of Water and Natural Resources, the group that handles loans and grants to communities and districts for drinking water and wastewater projects.

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