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United States

South Dakota on road to launching publicly-owned wind farm

US: South Dakota Wind Partners, LLC (SDWP) a group of organisations in the state has raised over 10% of the funding to launch a wind farm solely with public investment.

300 people attended two fundraising meetings on 2 August, which  raised over $1.6million of SDWP’s required $16million. All South Dakota residents are eligible to invest in SDWP on a first-come, first-serve basis.

SDWP  will own 7 turbines adjacent to Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s  151 MW (101 turbines), Prairie Winds SD1 wind project in south central  South Dakota’s Jerauld County.

The SDWP  project will have a total capacity of 10.5MW. Prairie Winds SD1 has  agreed to operate the SDWP wind farm and purchase the electricity it  produces.

East River Electric Power Cooperative, the South Dakota  Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Farmers Union and the South Dakota  Corn Utilization Council joined together to form SDWP as a way to  create a local wind ownership initiative.

The Dakotas have arguably the best wind resource in the US as well as active wind advocacy communities and a congressional delegation supportive of the wind industry. This has been underlined by recent research, highlighting South Dakota as one of four US states to derive more than 10% of its electricity from wind.

Last year, South Dakota introduced 126MW of new capacity, taking its total to 313MW.

However this has not always been the case. As recently as 2002 South Dakota was seen as struggling to attract major projects largely because their coal fired power plants produced more energy than the population needed and exporting the energy to the large population centres in Wisconsin and Minnesota was out of the question due to oversubscribed transmission lines.

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