Library from South Dakota
Depending on whom you talk to, emerging plans to build 765,000 volt transmission lines to bring power from the "Saudi Arabia of wind" in the Dakotas to population centers in the Midwest and East Coast are either vital to the nation or a boondoggle waiting to happen. "This state has vast resources it can't use without building new power lines," says Mr. Nelson, gesturing at lines on a grid map at the East River Electric Power Cooperative in Madison, where he is manager.
"South Dakotans are generally protective of their assets and we just encourage landowners to keep that protection top-of-mind when they may be considering an easement for a wind energy facility on their property," PUC Chairman Dusty Johnson said.
The state Senate refused Monday to re-open debate on Sen. Frank Kloucek's proposed tax break for noncommercial wind-energy systems. The legislation failed on the first attempt on Friday, when Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard broke a 17-17 tie by voting against it. An attempt to reconsider the bill on Monday fell short 17-18, as Sen. Jim Bradford, R-Pine Ridge, switched from yes to no.
A ordinance for proposed wind energy systems fizzled Tuesday before the Lawrence County Commission. After eight months of study and recommendations the wind energy ordinance was tabled at its second reading. ,,,Commissioners need to decide what is a large or small system based on height or kilowatts produced.
A 306-megawatt wind farm proposed for 77 acres in Brookings and Deuel counties would nearly triple the state's total production of wind energy - adding enough capacity to power 148,000 Midwestern homes. Oregon-based Iberdrola Renewables Inc. wants to build Buffalo Ridge II close to its two existing farms near White. Buffalo Ridge II would join the 54-megawatt Minn-Dakota farm that came online in April and the 55-megawatt Buffalo Ridge I, which should be completed in early 2009.
Financing for wind farms has disappeared, and fewer companies will be able to develop the kind of mega projects needed to feed the growing demand for energy, said Reyad Fezzani, chief executive officer of BP's wind and solar operations at the recent Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference. ...To weather the downturn, BP and other companies will have to fund those wind farms and solar-power plants using equity financing. They then can refinance when the credit crunch eases, Fezzani said.
Harrisburg might be years away from being a source of alternative energy, but a small step taken by the city's planning and zoning commission will help the community be ready if it happens. The commission this month recommended the approval of a wind turbine ordinance. The ordinance next moves to the City Council for action. Discussion of wind energy started after the Harrisburg School District applied for a wind energy educational program earlier this year, said Albert Schmidt, city planning and zoning administrator.
The MinnDakota Wind Power Project near White is set to expand by one-third. Iberdrola Renewables, of Portland, Ore., on Friday announced a $100 million expansion, called the Buffalo Ridge Wind Power Project. It would add 50 megawatts of potential power production from about 50 new turbines. There already are 100 turbines in the original MinnDakota wind farm capable of producing 150 megawatts.
Iberdrola Renewables announced today that it has signed a lease agreement with the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and some adjacent landowners, to develop a 225 megawatt (MW) wind farm, the first such project on the tribe's land. Studies are under way. Assuming all tribal and federal permitting processes proceed quickly, the project could be online as early as 2010 and would provide enough energy for 79,000 homes each year, according to American Wind Energy Association estimates. "We are delighted to be working with the Lower Brule Tribe on this important project," said Tim Seck, Director of Development for Iberdrola.
The approval of 3 towers that will measure wind in Lyman County may be the first step in construction of what could be one of South Dakota's largest wind farms. ...Halverson says there is speculation by area residents that up to 120 towers could be erected. A firm named PPM Energy , now known as Iberdrola Renewables, has distributed wind-energy literature in Lyman County.
The looming expiration date and uncertainty about whether Congress will extend the so-called renewable energy production tax credit is making it more difficult for wind project developers to line up financing, industry officials say. According to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, 25 wind energy companies have expressed an interest in developing about 1,000 megawatts of wind power in the state during the next few years. ... "This isn't emergency spending," said Herseth Sandlin, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. Johnson agreed that they need to find a way to pay for the extension.
The Lawrence County Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday directed county planning director Amber Vogt to pencil out new law governing the placement of wind generators in the county. Vogt said the rough draft could be ready for a first look at the planning commission's Aug. 14 meeting. As the planning commission laid out its timeline for drafting an ordinance, which could take up to six months, they said they would likely deny any new requests for wind towers until the new ordinance is in place.
The Harrisburg Planning and Zoning Board wants to revise a city ordinance to allow wind turbines to generate power within the city. At the board's May 14 meeting, Toby Brown of the South Eastern Council of Governments presented handouts referring to two types of wind power generation - "micro" and "small." The micro turbines are defined as those producing 10 kilowatts or less, with those in the small category producing 50 kilowatts or less. Of the two systems, micro is allowed in residential areas.
Wind energy is not an alternative for baseload generation, and the Big Stone II plant will meet Minnesota's increasing demand for baseload electricity. There still is a place for wind energy. The co-owners plan to purchase or install 850 megawatts of wind energy by 2015 in addition to constructing Big Stone II. But Minnesota will need baseload power - power that is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week - and wind energy cannot meet that reliability standard. ...Baseload generation is needed to help justify the million-dollars-a-mile that it costs to construct these transmission lines.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
South Dakota is among the top five windiest states in the country, but it faces major hurdles in turning that wind into electricity on a large scale, according to Michael Trykoski of Rapid City, chairman of the board of the South Dakota Energy Infrastructure Authority. "There is no silver bullet, no magic fix," Trykoski told about 100 people gathered for a Tuesday forum ...Building new transmission lines can cost up to $1 million a mile, he said. Even if the state built additional transmission lines, it could do so only to the state's borders, he said.
A study conducted by South Dakota State University students to determine the feasibility of wind energy in Charles Mix County has determined that personal wind generators are the way to go. The group of engineering students, which was hired by Charles Mix County, presented their results during Friday's Agricultural Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Workshop at the Wagner High School Auditorium. According to Charles Mix County Commissioner Red Allen, transmission issues factored heavily into the group's decision. ..."They're recommending that people in Charles Mix County go with small wind generators for their homes," he said. "You can get one that produces 800 kilowatts per month for $12,000 to $14,000." Allen expects the group to present its complete results at a set of future meetings in the area.
The concept of wind energy is viewed by state and civic leaders as either a good thing or a bad thing, Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson said, something he hopes to change when he addresses a group of officials from several counties today. "A lot of people believe that wind power is sort of a ‘silver bullet' that is going to create tremendous economic development and prosperity for South Dakota," Johnson said. "(Others say) that wind power is ‘fool's gold' - that it's expensive, that the wind doesn't blow when it needs to, and that wind power has the effect of raising energy prices." ...The reality is that wind has some tremendous challenges. It's not the answer to our energy solutions in the country, but it is a part of the answer."
Two months after announcing that the newly formed Republic of Lakotah had seceded from the United States, organizer Russell Means outlined plans for a wind-energy project for citizens of the new country. At a meeting in Rapid City on Saturday, Means said he has been talking with representatives of a California company about plans to put windmills on land owned by both Native Americans and non-Natives willing to become citizens of the new Republic of Lakotah. He declined to name the company. Means, a longtime activist, said he and other organizers have met with tribal members of the Standing Rock, Rosebud and Yankton Sioux tribes. Windmills could be sprouting on the Standing Rock, Rosebud and possibly Pine Ridge reservations this spring, he said. "All of the people living in our land are outlaws," Means said. "All of the states are outlaws."
Gov. Mike Rounds says he wants 20 percent of South Dakota's power to come from wind energy by 2030. And places like, Lawrence County, are working on wind turbine ordinances to help achieve that goal. But those regulations will only apply to property outside of city limits. That's why Spearfish city planners are working on their own preliminary wind turbine regulations. ..."What we're trying to do is balance that need for renewable energy resources in South Dakota with what we consider to be our most premiere resource, and that is the scenic beauty of the Black Hills. Not an easy problem to solve," Jayna Watson, the Spearfish city planner said.