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Tribe looks at wind farm development

AGENCY VILLAGE, S.D. (AP) - The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate is moving forward with plans to develop a wind farm on tribal trust lands in northeast South Dakota. The tribe has hired the engineering and consulting firm Black and Veatch of Overland Park, Kan., to help develop the project. Three company representatives explained the plans at a community meeting Thursday. Interim tribal chairman Jerry Flute said he would like to see the project focus on producing electricity for local use.

"For my part as chairman, I'd rather see us place the priority on providing low-cost energy to tribal members rather than selling the power to a major power company just to buy it back," he said. "Initially, this project was looked at as an economic development project, but I'd like to see us change the mix a little bit and reprioritize how we view the development of wind energy."

Flute said most tribal homes are heated with electricity and rates have skyrocketed in recent years.

"People are bringing in ridiculously high electric bills. These are often on fixed or low incomes, and they can't pay their bills," he said. "They have to start making hard choices; whether they buy diapers for the baby or pay the power company. The choice is always going to be take care of the baby, and the electric bill then ends up with the tribe."

Flute also expressed concern about the high electricity bills incurred by the tribe's three casinos.

"If we keep what we produce locally here, that would be my recommendation," he said. "If there is any surplus, then we can consider selling it to a power company."

Black and Veatch team leader Ryan Jacobson said three towers will be installed to collect... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

"For my part as chairman, I'd rather see us place the priority on providing low-cost energy to tribal members rather than selling the power to a major power company just to buy it back," he said. "Initially, this project was looked at as an economic development project, but I'd like to see us change the mix a little bit and reprioritize how we view the development of wind energy."

Flute said most tribal homes are heated with electricity and rates have skyrocketed in recent years.

"People are bringing in ridiculously high electric bills. These are often on fixed or low incomes, and they can't pay their bills," he said. "They have to start making hard choices; whether they buy diapers for the baby or pay the power company. The choice is always going to be take care of the baby, and the electric bill then ends up with the tribe."

Flute also expressed concern about the high electricity bills incurred by the tribe's three casinos.

"If we keep what we produce locally here, that would be my recommendation," he said. "If there is any surplus, then we can consider selling it to a power company."

Black and Veatch team leader Ryan Jacobson said three towers will be installed to collect information on wind speed and direction.

The tribe has already received a $50,000 grant to begin the feasibility study and has requested $250,000 more in support. A second set of grants has been sought worth nearly $1.5 million to help with development and construction costs.

 


Source: http://www.bismarcktribune....

AUG 21 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/4080-tribe-looks-at-wind-farm-development
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