Chris Nelson, vice-chairman, South Dakota Pub. Utils. Comm’n
Chris Nelson is currently the chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, having been first appointed to the PUC in 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacancy, and later elected by South Dakota voters to continue for the remaining four years of the term. He is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, serving as chairman of the association’s Committee on Telecommunications. Also Chris has been appointed to the NARUC Task Force on Federalism and Telecommunications.
FORTNIGHTLY: What is the electricity fuel mix in South Dakota and what is the commission doing about the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan?
CHRIS NELSON: South Dakota may be unique in that our fuel mix for generation is quite different from the fuel mix for consumption. Our generation mix is 48 percent hydro, 25 percent wind, 23 percent coal, and 4 percent natural gas. We have a very high percentage of carbon-free generation. The consumption mix is 65 percent coal, 14 percent hydro, 10 percent wind, 7 percent nuclear, 3 percent natural gas, and 1 percent other. Why is there a large difference between generation and consumption? Our hydro is generated by federal dams and much of that is allocated to other states, hence our lower hydro-consumption number. We import a lot of coal power from North Dakota and Wyoming along with some nuclear from Minnesota.