Sioux Valley's new Beneficial Electrification department responds to members in a powerful way

Debra Biever, Sioux Valley Energy’s vice president of human relations and member services, in the co-op's electric vehicle, which is appropriately named "Evie."

When Basin Electric Class C member Sioux Valley Energy, headquartered in Colman, South Dakota, conducted a member survey in 2020, the results were astounding. Ninety percent of the members who responded said they were interested in renewable energy and learning ways they can be more energy efficient.

The co-op’s beneficial electrification department was created in response to those findings. “We want to focus our efforts on what our members want,” says Debra Biever, Sioux Valley’s vice president of human relations and member services, “and this provides opportunities for members and the co-op.”

Ben Pierson, Sioux Valley Energy’s manager of beneficial electrification, says this is a “hot topic” in the energy industry that a lot of utilities are starting to focus on. He says in a nutshell, it is switching fuel sources from fossil fuels to electricity. While doing this, it is important to focus on saving consumers money over time, improving product quality or consumer quality of life, benefitting the environment by reducing emissions, and fostering a more robust or resilient grid. “And it’s essential to ensure doing one of these things does not negatively impact another,” he says.

The new department integrates several other programs and services the co-op offers, such as offering reduced-price electric water heaters for those who sign up for its load management system and expanding its knowledge in other areas that are increasing in popularity such as home solar and electric vehicles. “We want to be a trusted source for our members – the place they come for more information,” Pierson says. “We’ll give them honest advice so they can make the best decisions for their family.”

In order to gain expert, real-world knowledge, Sioux Valley is not only researching technology but studying it firsthand. There is a solar array in front of its headquarters building that powers the building. And, the co-op is considering a community solar project through the beneficial electrification department. Sioux Valley also purchased an electric vehicle (EV), which it brings to public events to educate its members.

“EVs are beneficial electrification to a T,” Pierson says. “They reduce emissions, save money over time with maintenance and fuel costs, and match what we’re trying to do very well. … We’re seeing more and more options and as these offerings grow, more people are considering purchasing them. We already have rebates and rates that would work well with EV ownership, and we have been working with contractors on how they can make new homes EV ready in terms of what needs to be installed to charge them.”  

Sioux Valley is also partnering with other co-ops and investor-owned utilities to try to secure grant funding for fast-charge infrastructure along South Dakota’s interstate corridor, which is essential to the success of electric vehicles.

Those who are interested in learning more about the programs and rebates related to beneficial electrification or to see a comparison between gas-powered and electric vehicles can learn more at

Related Videos