On October 6th, Dakota Rural Action hosted a Candidate Forum for the statewide Public Utilities Commission (PUC) race between Incumbent Commissioner Gary Hanson of Sioux Falls and Challenger Remi Bald Eagle of Takini. Moderator for the evening was DRA’s Community Energy Development Committee Chair Rick Bell, of Rapid City.

The forum, which was held via Zoom technology, was attended by citizens from across the state who were able to pose questions of the candidates using the “Q & A” function on the platform. Numerous questions were posed about pipelines, net metering, solar and wind energy development, and the PUC’s role in helping to craft legislation around the permitting process.

“The use of this platform to hold a statewide forum was new for us and for the candidates, too. I think it worked well to increase accessibility to the event, and to help educate more South Dakotans on what is an important but often little-understood state office,” said DRA Organizer and Lobbyist, Rebecca Terk.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulates investor-owned electric, natural gas, and telephone utilities, as well as issuing permits for the siting of wind energy, solar energy, and electric transmission facilities, as well as oil & gas pipelines. The PUC also licenses and inspects public grain warehouses and grain buyers in the state. Commissioners serve six-year terms with no term limits.

Watch the full video of the Candidate Forum below: