Library from South Dakota
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.
It's our turn now, Spearfish City Planner Jayna Watson said about when it comes to erecting wind generators within the city limits. Spearfish Planning and Zoning Commissioners met Wednesday to discuss the future of wind energy. This discussion comes on the heels of news that every school district in South Dakota received a letter from the Public Utilities Commission requesting administrators to consider constructing wind generators on their property. Watson explained that it is part of an initiative to have 20 percent of South Dakota's energy come from wind power by 2030.
...the amount of time could vary before the investors would make their money back. "It all depends on what you can get for the output," he said. Wiebe said one thing to keep in mind is, "The wind doesn't blow 100 percent of the time. ... So the actual output of the turbine could be anywhere from 30 to 45 percent (of capacity)." The placement of the wind farms can also be affected by its proximity to the habitats of endangered species or archeological sites. Parsley said proximity to buildings must also be taken into account, not only for noise, but for the winter months, when ice can collect on and be flung from the blades.
The project's official name is "Capacity Expansion by 2020," or "CapX2020" for short. It is being driven by an alliance of 11 different utility companies throughout the region, which covers all of Minnesota as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The power line planned for this area is one of three 345 kV lines proposed at different areas of the state as part of the the CapX2020 project. The project also includes construction of one 230 kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids. A public hearing for residents of this area is scheduled for next Tuesday, in Cannon Falls. It is one of many meetings still to come during the CapX2020 planning process. ...Rate payers from all area power utility companies will see an increase in their bills as a result of the CapX2020 construction, he added. Though Fordice could not put a specific amount on how much the increase to utility bills will be - probably $1.50 to $2 a month - the project itself is going to cost $1.4 billion, which will be divided among all 11 utility companies.
Work continues on crafting an ordinance relative to wind power generation even as the Lawrence County Planning and Zoning department hears more plans for wind turbines at locations around the county. In the last few months several landowners have approached the commission to tell them of plans to erect wind turbines to ease reliance on coal-generated power. But at that time, no ordinance existed that dealt specifically with wind turbines. So while landowners started jumping through the hoops set before them, county attorney Bruce Outka and planning and zoning director Amber Vogt began working on a draft ordinance that would address the turbines with regard to height, placement and noise.
"...we have to get the equivalent of an interstate highway system to get wind from where it's generated to where it's needed," said Thune. That's where large transmission lines like these will come in. "Getting power generated here is one thing, but getting it out to the customers where the demand is is another," ...
Plans for the world's largest wind farm, proposed to be built in South Dakota, have become more grandiose. ...Clipper Windpower of Carpinteria, Calif., intends to erect enough wind turbines in several South Dakota counties to produce up to 6,000 megawatts of electricity, said Bob Gates, the firm's senior vice president of commercial operations. That would be eight times larger than the biggest wind farm in the world, a 735-megawatt FPL Energy facility with 421 turbines stretching across three Texas counties. ...Clipper makes 2.5 megawatt turbines, and it would take 2,400 of them to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity. However, the firm continues to develop more efficient turbines and is part of a project to build 7.5 megawatt turbines for an oceanic wind farm off the coast of Britain.
But we also wonder if the time is coming soon when the view of windmills will no longer be a curiosity but an annoyance. Imagine dozens, or even hundreds, of wind turbines in this area. We love the beauty of our region and think of how it would look if such tall turbines were on the horizon at sunset, or partially block the view of a favorite lake or slough. This isn't to say we don't support the wind energy industry. We do. But just like the time came to establish zoning laws for livestock facilities or for manufacturing facilities, we think the time has come to establish statewide zoning for wind towers.