Wind energy farm moves forward

Farm Forum

An Aberdeen developer is moving forward with a project that could bring as many as 500 wind turbines to Lincoln County as part of a massive wind energy farm, according to a point man for the project.

Dakota Plains Energy principal Rob Johnson said on June 20 the local company is entering the second phase of the project, which would place wind turbines on thousands of acres of land in southeast South Dakota. Johnson said more than 100 landowners are on board with the project, which he said was introduced last year and has been in an initial research phase.

“We have close to 23,000 acres of land leased and under contract,” Johnson said. “We’re aiming for 250 to 500 turbines, which would be just a huge wind farm.”

Called Dakota Power Community Wind, the project, if completed, would connect the energy produced with the Rock Island Clean Line, a 500-mile transmission line project slated to link to the Chicago area and, eventually, to markets on the East Coast, Johnson said.

Earlier this year, the Dakota Power Community Wind Board approved the purchase and installation of a meteorological test tower, which, Johnson said, has so far garnered promising feedback pertaining to the viability of the proposed location of the wind farm.

“This phase of our plan will illustrate the project’s viability,” stated board chairman Paul Shubeck in a news release. “With over 100 landowners ready to dedicate land to one of South Dakota’s largest wind projects and the research from our meteorological towers proving the power of Lincoln County wind, we’re ready to offer investors the opportunity to be a part of this exciting clean energy project.”

Johnson said the project could produce a 1,000-megawatts wind farm, which, he said, would be the largest in the state.

“The Rock Island Clean Line is on track and on schedule,” Shubeck said. “We will be holding statewide investor meetings with a goal of $1.5 million to $4 million in new investments to begin the permitting and development phase of the Dakota Power Community Wind project.”

Farmlands currently leased for the project — which would cost close to $2 billion — are sufficient to support a 300-megawatt windfarm, according to the release, which would add nearly 50 percent to the state’s current wind energy production.

Based on a study done for a similar project, Dakota Power officials say the potential revenue from turbines to landowners could run more than $6 million annually.

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