South Dakota PUC opposes electric transmission permitting reform legislation

September 20, 2022

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioners have voiced their opposition to a portion of proposed federal legislation dealing with electric transmission permitting reform through formal letters sent to Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune. The legislation in question was proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and may be attached to a “must pass” funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, designed to fund the government in the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, 2022.

“The Manchin legislation would federalize the process to site electric transmission lines – eliminating all state authority over the siting of electric transmission projects found by the Secretary of Energy to be ‘national interest facilities’ and abolishing or significantly reducing the protections state law currently provides for landowners and citizens in the area,” explained PUC Chairman Chris Nelson.

“The current PUC permitting process, established through state law, is meant to protect South Dakota landowners, citizens, and the environment of our state,” said PUC Vice Chairperson Kristie Fiegen. “That process allows PUC staff to work with landowners and transmission developers to find solutions that work for everyone involved. A federal take-over of transmission siting would effectively eliminate the ability of South Dakota landowners to have a voice in siting that affects their property,” Fiegen stated.

“As PUC commissioners, we take our role in protecting South Dakotans very seriously and believe a siting process that is easily accessible for landowners to participate in is essential to our ability to do that well. No South Dakota landowner should have to go to Washington to voice their concerns when a very workable process currently exists at the state level,” declared Commissioner Gary Hanson.

PUC commissioners have urged Rounds and Thune to support South Dakota landowners by opposing the Manchin permitting reform legislation.