The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

It is not often that South Dakota’s full congressional delegation comes home for the same event, but Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin were in Brookings April 21 for the dedication of the MinnDakota Wind Power Project.

All three delegates spoke on the importance of extending the federal production tax credit in order for more wind farms like MinnDakota to be constructed in South Dakota.

“This is a project on a very big scale, and we want to see more like it in South Dakota,” said Thune. “I’m very excited about this project.”

Thune also spoke about the need to create more transition lines. He said that creating a “highway system” should be one of South Dakota’s priorities so the wind power harvested in the state can be used in large cities like Chicago or Minneapolis.

Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard agreed that the federal production tax credit needs to be extended, but added that he and Gov. Rounds have been working to improve local policy on wind. Rounds introduced a bill that passed during the 2008 legislative session that offered tax incentives to wind energy developers.

Rounds, who was not in attendance because he was speaking at a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Lab Conference in Lead, issued an executive proclamation declaring the week of April 21 to 28 Wind Energy Week in South Dakota.

Daugaard spoke of the potential economic benefits for South Dakota. He listed lease payments, manufacturing jobs and construction projects as a few of the possibilities for added income to the area. The wind farm is expected to boost the Brookings economy as well, according to Al Heuton, the executive director of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation.

“The MinnDakota project has been a tremendous addition to our new economy development efforts, and our goal is to see a continued expansion of wind energy,” said Heuton.

PPM Energy will be the first tenant in the first building at the SDSU Innovation Campus, which will be located on 125 acres of land between Interstate 29 and North 22nd Avenue. “Companies like PPM will be able to partner with SDSU faculty and researchers and have opportunities to employ SDSU students through internships, assistantships, part-time and full-time employment,” said Teresa McKnight, the CEO and executive director of Innovation Campus.

MinnDakota is the largest wind farm in South Dakota. PPM Energy leased land from 70 landowners, and 100 GE Energy 1.5 MW turbines are spread across 15,000 acres in Brookings County and Lincoln County, Minn. The wind farm will generate approximately 50 megawatts annually in South Dakota and 100 megawatts in Minnesota. PPM Energy estimates the energy produced by the wind farm will be enough to meet the needs of 58,000 homes each year. Xcel Energy is buying the electricity generated by MinnDakota.

#1.882561:3540808895.jpg:windenergyceremony_JN.jpg:U.S. Senator John Thune congratulated PPM Energy on the construction of the largest wind farm in South Dakota at the dedication ceremony in the Volstorff Ballroom on April 21. Thune supported the extention of the federal production tax credit in order to encourage developers to build more wind farms in South Dakota.: