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Proposed bill would allow PUC to regulate hydrogen pipelines


A legislative committee has submitted a bill requesting hydrogen pipelines be placed under Public Utility Commission oversight.

The House Committee on Commerce and Energy is introducing House Bill 1034 on behalf of the PUC for the 2024 legislative session.

The bill would require hydrogen pipelines be permitted by the PUC.

Chris Nelson is a PUC Commissioner. He said the addition of hydrogen pipelines to PUC regulation is an indication of what is to come.

“We don’t have anyone that wants to build one of those today, but there is increasing talk about it, and we know that the federal government has provided a significant amount of subsidy to the University of North Dakota to create a hydrogen hub in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota,” said Nelson.

The PUC is also the subject of HB 1053. Rep. Hugh Bartles introduced the bill which, aims to add term limits to PUC commissioners. The PUC is currently exempt from term limits.

The bill seeks to limit commissioners to two consecutive terms.

Nelson said similar legislation appeared last year. That bill ultimately failed on the floor of the Senate.

“We think, as I testified last year, that because of the intense technical nature of the issues that the Public Utilities Commission deals with and the fact that we are a quasi-judicial body - we’re not legislative, but we are a quasi-judicial body. That it is certainly worth having commissioners serving the people of South Dakota that have experience," said Nelson.

He said the PUC opposed the bill last year but have not yet discussed where they stand on HB 1053.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.