Why our distributed generation bill should have passed

Tuesday, our distributed generation bill went down with the wrong vote. HB 1254, our distributed generation legislation, really should have passed. Based on all the facts and data, it should have passed. Based on the actual studies that have been done in other states showing, conclusively, the value of distributed solar, it should have passed. And based on the very real fact that our proposal would not have done any of those “horrible” things opponents said it would, it should have passed.

But it didn’t. Why?

Any number of reasons, but one speaks loudly: power. Our opponents simple have more power than we do. So they oppose our legislation not because it is bad legislation, but because it challenges their power, and because (for the moment) they still have the upper hand in the halls of Pierre.

All the studies show the same thing, studies done in Arizona, California, New York, Minnesota: distributed generation has significant value to the electric grid. Small, independent systems are a good thing, and how much people who have those systems are paid matters.

The cost of electricity is not determined in a free market. Hence the need to go to the state government to determine the rate of payment for folks selling electricity as a product to the utility companies. Utilities are guaranteed a profit, they’re guaranteed to recoup the cost of their investments, they’re guaranteed a lot of things. And right now, they’re guaranteed independent electricity production in the state of South Dakota will remain low.

But we know you can only hold back the future for so long. Solar is getting cheaper and centralized electricity is getting more expensive. And really cool, really fun things are happening in the state around moving the industry forward.

So we’ll regroup and take a look at our campaign, and we will keep working. Because we do believe distributed generation has a big role to play in the future, and we want that future to come soon.


  1. It is important to keep moving forward, even when things seem difficult…new ideas take a while to take root…persistence is key to this campaign.

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