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Johnson: Wind power peaking at right time

MITCHELL, S.D. - Production of wind-powered electricity in South Dakota is well behind its potential, but a state official says that's not all bad.

Some of the states with big production capacities also are stuck with hundreds of old, inefficient wind turbines that produce expensive electricity, while South Dakota is poised to grow its wind industry at a better time, said Dusty Johnson.

"In South Dakota, we took a different approach," said Johnson, vice chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission. "And I think over the long-term, it's going to be a better approach."

South Dakota's installed wind energy capacity of 44 megawatts ranks 21st in the nation. That contrasts with the state's potential - 117,200 megawatts, which is fourth highest in the nation.

Johnson acknowledged that other states provided earlier incentives to the wind industry, but he said South Dakota is catching up. Another factor that hindered early wind development in South Dakota, he said, is the state's remote location and the prohibitive cost of building transmission lines to move electricity over long distances.

But Johnson said the state's wind development efforts are gaining steam at exactly the right time - while the cost of wind energy is falling.

"It doesn't bother me right now that South Dakota doesn't have hundreds and hundreds of megawatts of wind power,"... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Some of the states with big production capacities also are stuck with hundreds of old, inefficient wind turbines that produce expensive electricity, while South Dakota is poised to grow its wind industry at a better time, said Dusty Johnson.

"In South Dakota, we took a different approach," said Johnson, vice chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission. "And I think over the long-term, it's going to be a better approach."

South Dakota's installed wind energy capacity of 44 megawatts ranks 21st in the nation. That contrasts with the state's potential - 117,200 megawatts, which is fourth highest in the nation.

Johnson acknowledged that other states provided earlier incentives to the wind industry, but he said South Dakota is catching up. Another factor that hindered early wind development in South Dakota, he said, is the state's remote location and the prohibitive cost of building transmission lines to move electricity over long distances.

But Johnson said the state's wind development efforts are gaining steam at exactly the right time - while the cost of wind energy is falling.

"It doesn't bother me right now that South Dakota doesn't have hundreds and hundreds of megawatts of wind power," Johnson said. "If we'd have gotten it 10 years ago, the result on the consumer would have been higher electricity rates."

Johnson said the cost of wind energy has decreased 80 percent over the last 20 years and is finally becoming affordable enough to compete with other energy sources.

The lower cost is one of the converging factors that Johnson thinks will spark a "wind boom" in South Dakota, beginning next year. Another factor is an evolving package of government incentives that is encouraging more wind farms and more transmission lines.

The state's only major wind farm is located near Highmore and has 27 wind generators.
Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com


Source: http://www.aberdeennews.com...

MAY 6 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/2489-johnson-wind-power-peaking-at-right-time
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