FARMINGTON - Dakota Electric Association's annual meeting April 27 focused on the future - in terms of people, technology and growth.

President and CEO Greg Miller highlighted recent initiatives in solar energy, electric vehicles and grid interactive water heaters.

"In 2017, Dakota Electric partnered with Great River Energy and Schmitty and Sons bus company in Lakeville to bring the first ever all-electric school bus to Minnesota," Miller said.

Miller reported that Dakota Electric's electric rates for 2018 declined, customer satisfaction remains high and new technology that is coming will help serve the member-owners even better. He also mentioned Dakota Electric's pleasure in receiving an award that named the company the 2017 Employer of Excellence in Dakota and Scott counties.

Board Chair Jim Sheldon opened the meeting.

"I speak for the entire board when I tell you that it is an honor and a privilege to serve our members," he said, and then added, "The work is challenging and rewarding, and we all have learned much over the years."

The board authorized the return of more than $3.3 million in capital credits to the membership last December. The money that can't be returned to former members is donated for scholarships and to local school districts for specific educational programs or projects.

"We think we are doing the right thing by investing in our local students and future leaders," he said.

Board Treasurer David Jones gave an overview of the 2017 financials, which received a clean audit opinion from Dakota Electric's auditor.

Great River Energy

Priti Patel, vice president and chief transmission officer for Great River Energy, brought an update from Dakota Electric's wholesale power supplier. She talked about Great River Energy's greener energy portfolio, meeting the state's renewable energy goal eight years early, and 2017 reliability that was the best on record.

"It was our best year on record," Patel said. "Over the years our reliability has continually improved."

The membership re-elected four incumbent directors to serve three-year terms: Jerry Pittman, District 1; Clay Van De Bogart, District 2; Ken Danner, District 3; and Judy Kimmes, District 4.

A customer-owned, not-for-profit utility since 1937, Dakota Electric Association provides electricity to more than 106,000 members throughout Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties.