The Public Input Meeting
March 28, 2022 – Before certain large projects may be built in South Dakota, the project owner must obtain a siting permit from the Public Utilities Commission. Those projects are electricity production facilities 100 MW or larger such as wind farms, AC/DC conversion facilities, electric transmission lines larger than 115 kilovolts, and certain pipelines.
One of the first responses by the PUC to the filing of an application for a siting permit is to schedule public input meetings in the area of the proposed project. For a project such as a wind farm there may be a single meeting. For a project like a pipeline or transmission line there may be multiple meetings along the route of the line.
Last week the PUC held five public input meetings for a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline. The purpose of the meeting is just as the name implies – an opportunity for the commissioners to hear from the public on their thoughts regarding the project.
A typical meeting will start with the developer providing an explanation of their proposed project. The balance of the time is time for those attending to take the microphone to give their comments or ask questions about the proposed project. This input is extremely valuable to me to help understand the specific areas of concern which I need to focus on as the application process moves forward toward a final decision.
Importantly, the PUC can receive written comments from the public on the proposed project at any time before or after these meetings, so the public isn’t limited in their opportunity to comment at only these meetings.
Verbal comments at the meetings and written comments before or after provides the public direct access to share their thoughts with the public utility commissioners.