Midwest Winds are Unpredictable
As you drive southbound on I-29, you’ll see several oversize load vehicles leading semi’s with wind turbine blades in tow and red flags waving, ironically, in the wind. You’ll have to hold your stirring wheel tight to fight the ferocious winds so common across these plains. But you’ll be compelled to picture a South Dakota, ready for change, forging ahead to welcome a new age in renewable energy. And you’d be right…for the most part.
For the past 3 years, city officials and community leaders fought to keep wind farms out of Lincoln County and ultimately instituted strict laws that forced Dakota Power Community Wind to terminate it’s easements with 122 property owners. Had it been successful, the project would have been the state’s largest wind farm, capable of producing up to 1,000 megawatts using up to 500 turbines. Dakota Power Community Wind was unable to commit to the new rules even at a scaled down version of the original plan.
Despite opposition and defeat south of Sioux Falls, wind is winning just north of the city. In fact, just last week, Google signed a major wind contract with Avangrid Renewables near Brookings, South Dakota. The power purchase agreements will cover the full output of Avangrid Renewables’ Coyote Ridge and Tatanka Ridge Wind Farms providing 196 MW of new South Dakota wind power. Avangrid Renewables anticipates that the two wind farms would contribute more than $40 million over their lifetimes in combined land lease and tax payments.
Many are hopeful these new developments will have a positive effect on the local economy and job market but some are still not convinced. One thing is certain, ‘the winds of change are blowing through the continent’ and it’s a mighty wind in South Dakota.