Library filed under General from South Dakota
A government folly is playing out in our state's Capitol over a wind electricity project a group wants to build in Clark County. At the root of this folly is a federal requirement. Believe it or not, a wind farm developer can force a utility company to buy its electricity, even if the company doesn't want it. This gets worse. The wind power might cost more than the company wants its customers to have to pay for electricity.
Reed and Scott paid phone solicitors to make cold calls to investors, telling them that the wind farms were being constructed jointly by private investors and the U.S. government. Potential stakeholders were told that "government funds had been set aside by the President of the United States ...these alleged wind farm projects."
A Florida energy developer has suspended the permitting process for a 150-megawatt wind project in Hyde County, citing uncertainty about a power customer. ...Earlier this year, NextEra put the brakes on an environmental review for Crowned Ridge, the company's proposed 150-megawatt project.
NextEra "decided not to move forward" with the review "until we have greater clarity on several issues including securing a customer for the output," Steve Stengel, a spokesman for the Juno Beach, Florida-based company, said today in an e- mail.
"I can confirm that we are contemplating the sale of our Brandon, S.D., idle tower facility to reduce our manufacturing footprint," said John Segvich, director of marketing communications with Broadwind Energy.
Developers point to the usual culprit - a longstanding lack of adequate transmission - but also to a prolonged slump in electricity demand, sluggish growth in the broader economy and rock-bottom prices for natural gas, which competes with wind.
With no mandate in South Dakota to use renewable energy, "Anything your local provider is doing is simply out of generation needs," Glanzer said. "Obviously, there is a push to go forward with renewable but ...you want to make sure the price of that renewable resource is not going to affect your customers or your business in a negative way."
Renewable resource projects like a wind farm are riskier because they typically cost more to build and operate for the amount of power they provide. The commission could eventually rule that such an extra cost should not be borne by ratepayers when a traditional power source like a coal plant is available.
Oak Tree's first offer to Northwestern set the avoided cost at $69.20 per megawatt hour. Its final offer, tendered in February, was $54.40 per megawatt hour with a 2.5 percent annual increase. Northwestern wasn't interested.
Nothing illustrates the distance between the political culture and reality in modern governments so much as the billions invested in wind power. Presumably the purpose of such investments is to a) reduce greenhouse emissions and b) reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The plain fact that it increases both seems not to have bothered anyone.
As a wind-turbine factory in Pipestone, Minn., lays off most of its workers, competitors in South Dakota and Iowa are booming. ...The stark differences among the three Midwestern manufacturers show how business can blow hot and cold in what is still a young and growing wind-power industry.
All of the tax credits that help wind power become affordable to consumers are directed in hopes of having tax benefits, but the cooperatives don't pay taxes and haven't been eligible. But as part of the federal stimulus package, the Treasury Department created a renewable energy grant program that provided an opportunity for South Dakota Wind Partners to develop a community-based wind project so average people could invest.
Wind tower production in the 115,000-square-foot Tower Tech Systems building in the Corson Development Park remains on hold because the company hasn't secured enough contracts, according to a company spokesman.
A company that makes and repairs wind turbine blades said Wednesday it is laying off about one-third of the work force at its plant in the eastern South Dakota town of Howard. Knight & Carver Wind Group Inc. is laying off 16 of the Howard plant's 55 workers this week, and the firm might temporarily close the plant.
Gov. Mike Rounds has signed into law a bill aimed at giving South Dakota landowners more protection when they grant easements allowing construction of wind towers on their property.
A small wind turbine won't be going up on Aberdeen public school grounds, school board members decided Monday. The board heard an update on the proposed wind turbine, part of the national Wind for Schools program, from Bob Pitz, the school district's director of operations. ...Assistant Superintendent Becky Guffin said the turbine wouldn't impact that many students. Financially, she said, the money could be better spent elsewhere.
A state legislator wants to require registration of locations where anemometers are placed to measure wind speeds in South Dakota. Rep. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot, said the registry would help crop pilots avoid the towers when they're spraying fields from the air. He said land owners in an area also would benefit by knowing who's conducting research there for possible development of wind farms.
A bill that would lengthen the amount of time to develop a wind energy project to as long as 50 years meets with some concern by one industry official. House Assistant Majority Leader Kristi Noem, R-Castlewood, wants to change the current limit, which is five years, for developers to have an easement - the right to use another person's land for a stated purpose - on wind projects. The bill is HB1263.
The Aberdeen City Council is considering an ordinance that would prohibit wind turbines within city limits and the 1-mile jurisdiction. The Council approved first reading of the ordinance on Monday. Second reading and final adoption could come next week.
A possible wind farm in eastern South Dakota will primarily be in Day and Clark counties, a spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources said Tuesday. ...Day County Commissioner Mark Wattier said the wind farm likely will be built mostly in southwestern Day County and northwestern Clark County.