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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 21, 2008            
CONTACT:  Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

PUC gives go-ahead to Otter Tail Power Company for energy efficiency plan

PIERRE, S.D. – Continuing the work of its South Dakota Energy Smart initiative, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission this week approved an energy efficiency plan presented by Otter Tail Power Company. Among other things, the pilot project includes incentives for installing energy efficient heat pumps, lighting and motors.

"This is an ambitious, first-of-its-kind program in South Dakota and has the real potential for tremendous benefits including enabling customers to collectively save well over $1 million in energy costs," PUC Chairman Gary Hanson remarked. "The positive environmental aspects are important as well; energy efficiency is identified as an essential element of our national environmental energy policy," he added.

The PUC has encouraged investor-owned utilities, which it regulates, to introduce energy efficiency programs to their South Dakota customers. Last fall the PUC, in coordination with the state's energy providers, launched South Dakota Energy Smart, a statewide program to promote energy efficiency.

"The plan Otter Tail presented was well-reasoned and well-rounded," said PUC Vice Chairman Steve Kolbeck. "Then, Otter Tail representatives and PUC staff members worked together to refine it to what I believe is an easy way for consumers to save energy and money," he stated.

"If this program functions as designed, it will lower electricity costs even for nonparticipants," said PUC Commissioner Dusty Johnson. "Energy efficiency has social and environmental benefits, but the greatest strength of this program is that it supports the PUC's core mission: ensuring safe, reliable and affordable utility service. The cheapest and safest megawatt is the one you don't have to build."

Besides financial incentives, the approved plan also calls for the use of technology to make more efficient use of energy. Participants in the Residential Demand Control project, for example, will have a monitoring device that notifies them when to curtail or reduce the use of major energy-consuming appliances during periods of high energy demand. Participants receive a reduced energy rate as well as a cash incentive to help offset the cost of installing the monitoring device.

Other programs included in the energy efficiency plan encourage and incentivize the use of qualified heat pumps, efficient motors and lighting, and controlling the use of air conditioning during peak periods. A grant project to be offered by Otter Tail Power Company would pay incentives to entities for energy saving installations, including new energy-efficient equipment and process changes. The grant program will give preference to schools and other public entities.

The company expects to implement the programs in the fall of 2008. The PUC's action occurred during its regular meeting in Pierre on May 20. Other utility companies, including MidAmerican Energy Company and Xcel Energy, have also filed proposed energy efficiency programs with the PUC. The commission is expected to take action on those filings within the next several months.

Otter Tail Power Company provides electric service to more than 11,000 customers in northeastern South Dakota. Milbank, Sisseton, Rosholt, Britton, Waubay, De Smet and Elkton are among the communities the company serves.

Visit the PUC Web site,, for more information about Otter Tail Power Company's energy efficiency plan. Select "Commission Actions," then "Commission Dockets" and "2007 Electric." Click on the docket titled EL07-011 to view the documents. 

Visit for information about the South Dakota Energy Smart initiative.