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Members invited to comment on local democracy legislation

During the 2017 session, the Minnesota Legislature passed and the Governor signed local democracy legislation that reduces duplicate regulation on your electric cooperative.

The legislation returns some balance to the regulatory process, ensuring decisions that impact member-owners of cooperatives are made locally by your elected board of directors. While electric cooperatives are already locally regulated in most areas, this legislation made an important clarification, one that will allow for innovation in response to members’ needs for years to come.

The legislation impacts the distributed generation section of the statute and brings it in line with the rest of Minnesota Statute as it applies to the rates, fees and charges of electric cooperatives. Electric cooperatives still must follow the law as laid out by the legislature in this section. The new provision allows cooperatives to adopt the authority implementing this section of statute (Minnesota Statute 216B.164). A cooperative must pass a board resolution adopting this authority and the rules implementing this section of statute.

The municipal utilities in Minnesota have had similar authority for over 30 years. With the passage of the provision, the legislature affirmed the value of local decision-making for rural electric cooperatives across Minnesota. As your locally-owned cooperative, we know that local decision-making can result in rates and services that reflect our community’s needs, while helping to keep administrative costs down.

At the August 25, 2017 meeting of your electric cooperative board of directors, the adoption of this authority will be discussed. Directors and staff will review the applicable law (MN 216B.164) and discuss a resolution and rules implementing the section of statute. The purpose of this change is to secure local decision-making, not to substantively change the way your cooperative interacts with distributed generation.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this law, written comments can be sent to East Central Energy, Attn: Julie Johnson, P.O. Box 39, Braham, MN 55006. Faxing your comments to 320-396-4114 is acceptable. Please address your fax to Julie Johnson. All written comments, mailed or faxed, must be received by August 23, 2017.

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