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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Thursday, June 12, 2008               
CONTACT:  Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

PUC chairman to testify before U.S. Senate committee

PIERRE, S.D. – Gary Hanson, chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, will testify about electric transmission issues before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 17. New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the committee, invited Hanson to discuss transmission challenges specific to renewable energy resources.

"The demand for electric energy in the U.S. will grow by nearly 400 gigawatts over the next 23 years and renewable energy produced in South Dakota will be expected to help meet that demand," Hanson stated. "Without vigorous transmission capacity our efforts to assemble a viable wind energy regime will be without purpose," he said.

Hanson will address the role transmission plays in the development of wind energy. "The availability and the cost of transmission is a roadblock to robust wind energy development in South Dakota," he explained. "Currently, South Dakota generators of wind energy have to pay a pancake rate – the most expensive transmission pricing method – to get their energy to market."

In the pancake pricing method, multiple transmission charges are added to the cost of power as it passes through many control areas, or transmission systems, on its way to load centers where it will reach end-users.

Hanson's oral remarks will be supported by written testimony that describes current transmission pricing methods and his recommendation that the Western Area Power Administration, the major transmission provider in South Dakota, join the Midwest Independent System Operator. The Midwest ISO is a regional organization that administers the operation and use of the transmission system of its membership. "As a mega-control area, the Midwest ISO offers many benefits in terms of transmission service operation and fair pricing," Hanson said.

Hanson's interest and expertise of transmission issues has been refined by his participation in several regional and national organizations and panels. He serves as a member of the steering committee of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative and the Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Hanson also is the treasurer and an executive board member of the Organization of MISO States (OMS). OMS members primarily focus their discussion and advice on electrical transmission issues relating to pricing, market monitoring, generation and transmission needs within a region that encompasses 15 states and Manitoba.

To view a live Web cast of this hearing at 10 a.m. EDT (9 a.m. CDT/8 a.m. MDT) on Tuesday, June 17, go to and click on the "Live Webcast" link in the lower left-hand corner of the page.