The state's 28 electric cooperative distribution systems and three generation and transmission electric cooperatives serve nearly 300,000 people across 90 percent of South Dakota's land mass. These systems are member-owned utilities established to provide at-cost electric service to more than 93,000 farms, homes, schools, churches, businesses and other establishments across the state.
SDREA is the service association of the state's electric cooperatives and is devoted to unifying, promoting and protecting the interests of member electric cooperatives in South Dakota by providing leadership, training, communication, legislative representation and other member services. Each of the 31 SDREA member cooperatives selects a director from their local board, which is elected by the cooperative's membership, to represent the cooperative on the SDREA board of directors.
Thirty-eight cooperative directors and employees were recognized for 25 or more years of service to the state's electric cooperatives. Among those recognized was Mike Kjose, Member Services and Marketing Director, Clay Union Electric Company, Vermillion, for 30 years of service.
Three cooperatives � Central Electric Cooperative, Mitchell, Clay Union Electric Corporation, Vermillion, and Dakota Energy Cooperative, Huron � were presented with certificates for completing Rural Electric Safety Accreditation in 2005.
The purpose of the Rural Electric Safety Accreditation Program is "to inform and promote safety and loss control concepts in the interest of the employees and the public served; for the preservation of life and the prevention of injury; and to aid in the reduction of escalating costs associated with preventable injuries and/or death."
"Safety has got to be in the crews' routine, in their day-to-day activity," said Rick Hoffman, co-manager of Loss Control for SDREA.
The importance of safe habits was reinforced with November's ice storm. When the ice storms hit South Dakota's electric cooperatives in November, the cooperatives logged thousands of hours from workers from numerous states. The work was all done in adverse conditions with no major injuries to crew members.
"Working with other crews, they pass those same values of safety along no matter if they are from Iowa or Louisiana," said Greg Burrell, co-manager of Loss Control for SDREA.
Going through the safety accreditation process demonstrates the participating cooperatives' willingness to have their safety habits examined and reviewed by their peers.