My voice: Wind energy is good for Lincoln County
Development of wind energy presents significant opportunity for the state of South Dakota and the nation. The development of wind energy is good for farmers and ranchers by providing a much needed source of income; it is good for South Dakota’s economy by potentially offering new jobs and expanding the local tax base; and it is good for the environment because it provides a clean renewable resource to meet growing energy needs. According to National Renewal Energy Lab, South Dakota has the potential to produce more than 882,000 megawatts of wind power. Today it produces 784 megawatts.
Locally developed community wind projects, such as the Dakota Power Community Wind project in Lincoln County, have additional benefits, as they tend to maximize the amount of revenues from the projects that stay in South Dakota and circulate it into the local economy. Like many wind projects in our state, most of the power from this project is expected to be exported, bringing additional revenues from other states into South Dakota.
Community wind projects typically are developed by and for the residents in the area of the project. For the Dakota Power Community Wind project, 11 of the 12 board members live in Lincoln County. Tax benefits from wind turbine projects flow into townships, counties, local school systems and the state. A typical 500 megawatt project, such as the Dakota Power Community Wind project, would be expected to provide about:
■ $750,000 per year to local school systems.
■ $225,000 per year to local townships.
■ $525,000 per year to local county government.
Other expected benefits include:
■ New temporary and permanent jobs.
■ Expansion of existing and new business opportunities in the area.
■ Encouraging new transmission highways into the state that could help to create a major long-term exportable product.
With the pending new EPA regulations on carbon emissions, it is unlikely that new coal-fired power plants will be a viable option for the foreseeable future. This means that the market demand for alternatives will make the economics of wind energy far more attractive in the future than in it has been in the past. Wind turbine facilities (supplying energy) combined with natural gas turbines (supplying firm capacity) currently are the most cost effective alternative for new power requirements, and as a replacement for older coal plants that will be retired as a result of the new federal regulations. There also may be pumped storage options unique to South Dakota’s Missouri river bluffs that would store excess wind energy for use when the demand is higher and firm up the variability associated with wind power. An energy storage facility such as this would have the potential to support significant wind development in the region with very attractive economics.
With any progress, there may be issues. Birds can and do contact wind turbine blades. However, there has been no data that indicates that this is a major issue in South Dakota. Health issues always are a concern. But again, there is no indication of any significant health issues associated with wind turbines, and any health issues would be strongly offset by reduced emissions into the air, as environmentally friendly wind energy replaces fossil fuel alternatives.
Because of the many benefits to the people of South Dakota, we at the South Dakota Wind Energy Association would like to encourage the people of South Dakota to support wind development. It is good for our people. It is good for our state.
Paul Bachman, Harrisburg, is the executive director of the South Dakota Wind Energy Association (sdwind.org) and is an electrical sector leader in the Sioux Falls office, DGR Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer (South Dakota, North Daota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska) with 25 years experience in power engineering and 10 years experience in telecommunications engineering.
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