Avera Health and Rural Electric Economic Development Fund Announce Workforce Housing Development Financing Partnership

Avera Health and Rural Electric Economic Development Fund Announce Workforce Housing Development Financing Partnership

Avera Health and the Rural Electric Economic Development (REED) Fund Tuesday announced a new $10 million workforce housing development financing partnership. Avera has committed $2 million to the partnership and REED has committed an initial $4 million, with plans to grow the total fund to $10 million. The partnership was announced at a joint press conference on September 3.

“Avera is pleased to partner with the Rural Electric Economic Development Fund with this $2 million investment in workforce housing,” said Avera Health President and CEO Bob Sutton. “Avera is committed to our rural roots and the communities we serve. Workforce housing has become a growing concern in rural South Dakota over the past several years and we’re happy REED is addressing this issue”

The REED Fund is a nonprofit corporation created and operated by electric cooperatives that partners with commercial and other economic development lenders to provide financing and leverage private investment in more than 69 counties throughout South Dakota and Minnesota. Established in 1997, REED is governed by 26 member electric cooperatives and assists projects that promote community well-being and contribute to employment, business and wealth creation, as well as improve the infrastructure, services and economic base.

“REED’s member electric cooperatives are excited to launch this housing development partnership with Avera Health,” said REED Board President Ken Schlimgen. “We want to assist communities in developing housing that meets the needs of today’s workforce. A partnership with Avera will help this region begin to address the urgent need for quality workforce housing.”

Funds from the partnership will be used for lending in partnership with banks and other agencies to provide loans for housing development and housing infrastructure in Avera-served communities. Communities and developers can contact the REED Fund for more information on the application process.

“All business sectors including health care and electric cooperatives in rural areas are looking for highly-skilled staff,” said East River Electric Power Cooperative General Manager Tom Boyko. “It can be a real challenge to recruit workforce without quality housing options. We’re going to work on solving this critical issue.”

Avera Health Chief Human Resources Officer Kim Jensen, agreed, saying, “Recruiting and maintaining talent throughout the Avera Health organization can be a challenge at times due to the rural nature of our footprint. When we start getting into smaller, rural communities it is imperative that there is quality housing that is affordable for prospective employees.”

Since it was established, REED has invested more than $100 million dollars in the region through more than 338 loans. The REED Fund and partner lenders have combined to distribute more than $858 million dollars in economic investment, 9,400 jobs have been impacted, and 2.3 million square feet of facilities have been constructed or renovated.

Photo: Central Electric General Manager Ken Schlimgen, Avera Health President and CEO Bob Sutton, and East River Electric CEO/General Manager Tom Boyko

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Held for Onida Substation

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Held for Onida Substation

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new Onida substation on Friday, August 23. The substation is owned by East River Electric Power Cooperative and serves the member-owners of Oahe Electric Cooperative, including the city of Onida and Ringneck Energy ethanol plant.

During the event, representatives from East River Electric, Oahe Electric, Ringneck Energy, the Onida Area Development Corporation and the Onida Chamber of Commerce discussed the benefits that the new substation brings to the area. The event concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“We are excited for the enhanced capabilities of this new facility in meeting the growing energy needs of Onida, Ringneck Energy and the surrounding area,” said East River Chief Operations Officer Mark Hoffman. “This new substation will have the ability to serve new growth in the area for years to come, just further enhancing the region’s economic development opportunities. East River and Oahe Electric are strong supporters of the ethanol industry and are pleased to work with Ringneck Energy to meet their power needs.”

The new substation replaces a substation that was built in the 1970s and brings increased capacity to reliably meet the area’s current and future energy needs. Construction began in September 2016 and was completed in fall 2018.

“We appreciate the great working relationships with East River Electric, Ringneck Energy and the city of Onida,” said Oahe Electric General Manager Rodney Haag. “This new substation has improved the reliability of Oahe Electric’s energy delivery system to our member-owners.”

In addition to the Onida substation, East River Electric is currently planning several other facilities in the area. These facilities include a new substation west of Blunt in Hughes County that is currently under construction, plans for a new substation north of Pierre and a rebuild of a current substation west of Onida. These projects will improve reliability and provide additional capacity for the region’s growing energy needs.

Photo: East River Electric Business Development Director Mike Jaspers (left), East River Electric Chief Member and Public Relations Officer Chris Studer, East River Electric Chief Operations Officer Mark Hoffman, Oahe Electric General Manager Rodney Haag, Onida Chamber of Commerce President Marileen Tilberg, Onida Area Development Corporation President Brian Ring, Onida Chamber of Commerce Member Leann Weischedel, Ringneck Energy CEO Walt Wendland and Oahe Electric Board President Ken Gillaspie

 

East River Employees Volunteer at Gathering Meal

East River Employees Volunteer at Gathering Meal

East River employees volunteered their time and talents to help serve 116 meals at the monthly Gathering Meal at the Madison United Methodist Church. East River employees baked desserts or assisted with preparing, serving and cleaning up after the meal. This is a great chance for our employees to give back and live out the 7th cooperative principle of commitment to community. Thank you to everyone who volunteered at this event!

Madison’s Lindsey Dockendorf Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship

Madison’s Lindsey Dockendorf Receives $1,000 Basin Electric Scholarship

Lindsey Dockendorf of Madison is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship from Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, N.D. She is the daughter of Tim and Amy Dockendorf of Madison.

Basin Electric awards 180 scholarships per year to children of member cooperative employees across the region. Dockendorf’s father, Tim, works as the Communications & Control Systems Administrator for East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, a Basin Electric member.

Lindsey will attend South Dakota State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human biology with a career focus on pre-medicine. She then plans to attend the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota to receive her medical degree. Throughout high school, Lindsey participated in volleyball, softball, track and 4-H Archery. Lindsey is the president of the National Honor Society, a student ambassador and is involved in the Youth Discipleship group at her church.

“We congratulate Lindsey and her family on this tremendous honor,” said East River Electric CEO/General Manager Tom Boyko. “Lindsey’s commitment to both academics and athletics shows her dedication to attaining her goals. We wish Lindsey well as she continues her education at South Dakota State University.”

Since the scholarship program began, over 3,000 students in the Basin Electric system have benefited from this program. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic record, potential to succeed, leadership and participation in school and community activities, honors, work experience, a statement of education and career goals and an outside appraisal by a teacher or adviser.

Cutline: (Left to Right) Tom Boyko, Lindsey Dockendorf and Tim Dockendorf. Tom presents Lindsey with the $1,000 Scholarship.

East River Electric Power Cooperative Restores Power to 22 Substations, 5 Substations Still Without Power

East River Electric Power Cooperative Restores Power to 22 Substations, 5 Substations Still Without Power

As of 5 p.m. on April 11, East River Electric Power Cooperative has restored power to 22 substations that lost power due to the April blizzard. East River still has 5 substations without power. Those substations are located near Humboldt, Trent, Wentworth and Corsica. Crews hope to restore power to the Humboldt substation yet this evening, pending weather conditions. Due to extensive damages and poor conditions, the substations near Trent and Wentworth will remain without power overnight. The substation near Corsica in Douglas County will also remain offline overnight but crews were able to reroute power from that substation to another source. The cooperative’s substation near Alcester lost power shortly before 5 p.m. on April 11 and crews are mobilizing to assess the cause.

Along with the substation outages, there are downed powerlines on parts of the transmission system and crews are currently working to repair those structures. Consumers in the affected areas could see outages into Friday.

East River Electric is the wholesale power provider to 24 distribution electric cooperatives and one municipal electric system in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

To view a map of outages affecting rural electric cooperatives in South Dakota, please visit the South Dakota Rural Electric Association’s online outage map: https://outages.sdrea.coop/outages/maps

East River Electric Power Cooperative Experiencing Power Outages due to April Blizzard

East River Electric Power Cooperative Experiencing Power Outages due to April Blizzard

The combination of ice, snow and wind due to the April blizzard is affecting the transmission system of East River Electric Power Cooperative. East River Electric is the wholesale power provider to 24 distribution electric cooperatives and one municipal electric system in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

As of 8 a.m. on April 11, East River Electric has 27 substations without power. Most of the affected substations are located in Miner, Lake, Moody and Minnehaha counties. Clay, Lincoln, Union and Yankton counties in southeastern South Dakota are also experiencing outages due to the storm. The cooperative’s crews have mobilized to assess damages and start repairs where possible. Power to some of the affected substations has been rerouted to other sources. There are downed powerlines on parts of the transmission system but because of poor visibility and travel conditions crews have not been able to reach all areas to assess the full extent of the damage and make needed repairs. Consumers could see outages throughout the day today and possibly into Friday.

To view a map of outages affecting rural electric cooperatives in South Dakota, please visit the South Dakota Rural Electric Association’s online outage map: https://outages.sdrea.coop/outages/maps

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