The board of directors recently approved our 2019 budget and construction work plan, which continues to provide for construction of new growth and maintenance of our 4,000 miles of electrical lines and related equipment.
New smart meters
As we wrap up our conversion to a new billing and customer information system, we embark on our Advanced Grid Infrastructure (AGi), or smart grid project, that will replace our aging meters and load management equipment with new technology that will serve you even better. By the end of this year, we will install approximately 5,000 meters in the field to test the equipment and communications systems. Once this pilot project is complete, we will install the remaining 120,000 meters by the end of 2021.
Dakota Electric added an additional 2MW of solar at the end of last year. Our third solar project, located in Randolph, was energized in December and consists of 7,700 panels that move and track the sun for maximum energy output. We are in the planning stages to add an additional 3MW of solar later this year or early next year. This is in addition to our power supplier Great River Energy’s commitment to achieve 50 percent renewable energy in our fuel sources portfolio by 2030.
In the coming months, Dakota Electric may need to file a rate case with the Public Utilities Commission. Although we are projecting about 1,000 new members this year, we are still seeing flat sales due to energy efficiency and conservation efforts. This year’s budget also has some new upward cost pressures as we strive to meet a growing number of regulatory requirements. Therefore, we may seek a moderate rate increase in 2019. We will provide more information when the rate case is filed.
We are a not-for-profit cooperative, and we strive every day to hold down costs while still providing the reliable, quality service you expect. As your cooperative, we are committed to minimizing the impact of increasing power costs on your household. Our Energy Experts® are here to answer your questions about home energy savings and provide more information about our energy-efficiency programs and rebates.
Dakota Electric is fortunate to have an amazing group of employees, most of whom are members just like you. Together we will work hard to continue to provide exceptional customer service along with safe, reliable electricity at reasonable rates.
– Greg Miller
Dakota Electric President & CEO