Lincoln County landowners look to tap into wind

Farm Forum

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – A group of landowners in Lincoln County says it’s planning to build a wind farm to power 300,000 homes, but supporters acknowledge that the project faces numerous challenges.

The Dakota Power Community Wind project is dependent on the Rock Island Clean Line electrical transmission line, which has a tentative completion date of 2018. Construction cannot begin until environmental, compliance and wind speed studies are completed, the Argus Leader reported.

Other challenges include securing land rights and financing.

”I would like to see it completed, but there’s a lot of stumbling blocks,” said Paul Shubeck, chairman of Dakota Power Community Wind’s board of directors.

The group of Lincoln County landowners and community leaders, which was formed last year to look at developing a wind farm, has been working with Aberdeen-based wind farm developer Dakota Plains Energy to lay the groundwork for the potential project.

The goal is to help develop the county’s economy by tapping into its wind resources. More than 1,000 temporary construction jobs and up to 70 full-time positions could be created by the wind farm if it reaches its target size of 1,000 megawatts, enough to power up to 300,000 American homes, board members said.

”I can’t underestimate the importance of investing in our future,” said Beresford Mayor and Dakota Board Vice Chairman Jim Fedderson.

Rob Johnson, president and co-founder of Dakota Plains Energy, said nothing about the project is set in stone.

”There are an awful lot of moving pieces, that’s for certain, but every time you get past one of these steps, you’re closer to ensuring success,” Johnson said. ”We haven’t committed anything to paper yet, we’re just at the very beginning stages.”

Shubert said the group will begin recruiting landowners to participate this summer.

”It’s a voluntary deal; if people want to do it they can, if they don’t, they don’t have to,” Shubert said.