Library from South Dakota
People involved with the South Dakota wind industry have their fingers in the political winds, trying to gauge it. That's because people with a vested interest in the wind industry are getting nervous if an extension of a federal tax credit will be approved before the end of the year. However, it could be too late for an industry that helps produce 22.3 percent of South Dakota's electricity.
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.
The original wind turbine, intended to be a pilot project to show how wind turbines can save money and power small buildings, was installed in June 2008. But the brakes and control panel on that turbine didn't work right, and before KILI ever took control of the turbine the gearbox broke.
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."
The South Dakota House failed Monday to override Gov. Dennis Daugaard's veto of a bill that would have refunded about half the construction taxes for large wind energy projects and an environmental upgrade at Big Stone Power Plant.
The developer for a Belle Fourche-area wind farm said South Dakota's pro-wind farm bill now on the governor's desk should have a lower threshold for refunds from state tax on construction costs.
The House voted 52-16 to accept the Senate's version of the bill, which would provide tax refunds beginning in January 2013 for wind energy projects or environmental upgrades at power plants costing more than $50 million. ...Current law gives partial refunds to large construction projects, but that law expires Dec. 31, 2012.
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.
Deputy Revenue Secretary David Wiest, also a task force member, cast the only vote against the recommendation to reduce construction taxes, saying he is not convinced South Dakota's taxes on wind farms are significantly higher than other states. South Dakota has other advantages, such as wind.
Wind farms are largely restricted to general agricultural districts, and developers have to submit bonds to pay for the cost of eventually decommissioning the farm. Commissioners made final changes last week to the ordinance to satisfy concerns raised by Rapid City Regional Airport.
"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.
The corridor follows the crane's migratory path from Canada to the Texas coast, and tracking the project to this central flyway was the whole point, said Marty Tuegel, a planning coordinator in the Fish and Wildlife's southwestern region.
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.
A legislative study on wind industry incentives no longer will be sponsored by the industry itself. The Legislative Executive Board decided this week to use its own money to pay for the Wind Energy Competitive Advisory Task Force.
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.
BROOKINGS - A new transmission line to move power from a Brookings County substation to the Twin Cities would be a crucial upgrade for the regional power grid and a boon to South Dakota's wind industry, utility companies told the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission at a hearing Thursday night in Brookings.