Bringing Natural Gas to Miller

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Last week, Northwestern Energy brought a presentation to Miller to discuss a non-profit entity being formed to bring natural gas to 89 communities in South Dakota. 15 people attended the meeting including city council members, school board member, On Hand Development board members, business owners, and citizens.

The first step of this project is for the City of Miller to agree to join the non-profit. This non-profit is a separate entity from the City of Miller. This non-profit entity will be governed by a non-profit board of directors. The potential founding members are Chamberlain, Wagner, Miller, Sisseton, Britton, Platte, Wessington Springs and Tyndall. Chamberlain has already agreed. On Hand Development supports the city of Miller exploring this option to be part of the non-profit.

This opportunity will enhance our economic development in our area and bring in prospective new businesses to our area. I am confident about competing with other communities to get businesses to our area because I know the need for natural gas in Miller and the number of RFI’s that I have seen come to my desk in the past 6 months. An RFI is a formal “Request for Information” from a site selection consultant or company searching for a new location for the expansion of operations. The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development periodically sends out RFIs to local economic development partners statewide as a result of a specific company inquiry.

Since October of 2019, the number of RFIs that has come to my desk from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development has tripled. The number one requirement for these RFI is natural gas. If you don’t have natural gas in your community, you can’t even submit an application. So, if a company from Minnesota that is brining in 20 jobs is looking for a community that has natural gas, 1300 people, has a building similar to our ALCO building, on 2 major highways, and has a railroad, I can’t even show Miller. We can’t check that first box so we are out to even send that application back. I have never seen a RFI that doesn’t require either 1.) Natural Gas 2.) on the Interstate 3.) on the Rail. These potential new businesses and people, can take their new business to DeSmet or Redfield. They can check that box for natural gas.

This is an opportunity to attract new businesses and have community growth. This is an opportunity to bring people and jobs to our community. This opportunity also gives Miller an additional source for energy. A few weeks back our area was near the rolling blackouts that occurred because of excess demand. Electricity keeps increasing demand and natural gas could offset some of this and keep us from going into peak demand electricity because we can add diversity use with natural gas. Also, with all the new clean energy changes we could see a change in energy costs and natural gas in Hand County gives us more options and the price is relatively stable compared to other energy sources.

On Hand Development is urging the city council to join Chamberlain in saying yes to the non-profit and to explore this project more and get involved in the discussion. We hope you urge your city council to do the same.

Monday, March 15, 2021 the City Council will be talking about joining that non-profit and the joint powers agreement. 

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