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Monday, October 26, 2009

Self-Reliance thru Distributed Electricity Generation: Yes South Dakota Can!

I work, just a little, for the South Dakota Resources Coalition. I put together their mostly monthly newsletter. But this isn't a paid post: I just think everyone might be interested in the program SDRC is presenting in conjunction with their annual meeting Saturday in Brookings:

John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will speak on the topic of community renewable energy. Farrell thinks like I do: he says that instead of making massive, expensive investments in transmission infrastructure to send South Dakota wind power far away to big cities, we ought to focus on building distributed generation capacity to power our own communities.

Distributed generation: like local wind turbines.

Farrell has studied the potential for American energy self-reliance. He finds that South Dakota is one of 32 states that could produce all of its own electricity. And in a state that prides itself on pioneer spirit and self-reliance, that's the sort of goal we should all be able to get behind.

Farrell speaks Saturday, October 31, 1 p.m., at the Brookings Public Library. Following his presentation will be a panel discussion on energy self-reliance, as well as a presentation by David Staub of Sisseton on what he learned about distributed renewable energy during his electric rail tour of Western Europe. After the presentations, the SDRC will hold its annual meeting.


  1. I post as A. Dakota through www.therootedpasque.blogspot.com or check out our neighborhood website www.mywhittierneighbor.com

    I believe our neighborhood association is in the perfect position for something like this. Will this guy hold a conference in SF? I want to know more. Our association has been approved for nonprofit with the State and we are working towards our 501c3. I have long believed if there was away to cross the hurdle of implementation that personal energy systems is truly low income living. I work at noon today so won't be available for immediate comment.

  2. Hello, Ms. Schave! You may be able to get hold of Mr. Farrell through the SDRC: 605-881-5514, or email Jeanne Koster: jeannekoster (at) msn (dot) com. Or heck—try the ILSR contact page, and contact Mr. Farrell directly. And maybe bring your Whittier neighbors up to Brookings for a visit on Saturday! (It'll be quieter than last Saturday's Hobo Day craziness! :-) )

  3. Distributed power is a wonderful idea for many reasons.

    Ironically, as I write this, I am in Wyoming looking at properties, with the intent of putting a wind turbine and/or photovoltaic system on it. Wyoming has a buy-back arrangement wherein, if one generates enough electricity, one can make money from the electric company.

    If electric rates "skyrocket" as President Obama has promised us, and if by that time I have a grid intertie system installed, and if it's big enough, I'll have an ideal inflation hedge fund! The more expensive electricity becomes, the more money I'll make!

    One can ride any wave. Just read the swells ... and then when it's time to move, move!

    Glenn Beck, I think I have found a way to sit at this President's table without getting whacked.

    What are the specifics concerning grid intertie buyback in South Dakota? Maybe I'll research that too; however, my current residence in Lead suffers from a dearth of sun and a dearth of wind. It's got beautiful view out the dining room window, though, and it's in a town with good future economic prospects and the promise of an influx of cool cats (the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Lab).

    Not every scenerio herein sniffs of the electric rose. The realtor I'm working with here has said that in the Cody area (at least), "view is everything." While no covenants might exist in regards to the installation of a 60-foot, creosoted utility pole with a 10-kW Bergey wind turbine crowning its summit, one could nevertheless make an enemy in a hurry by erecting such a structure in someone's favorite line of sight -- and lines of sight out here extend for miles.

    Wind power is great, but let's not forget about photovoltaics! One of the properties I've seen has a long, slanted roof facing south ... I can see it covered with photovoltaic cells ... it makes me drool even more than smoked squid in beezlenut oil.

    Let's do it, say I! South Dakota has plenty of wind and plenty of sun. It's gold for the taking ... I mean for the sharing.

  4. Ride that wave, Stan—I hope climate-change legislation makes you a millionaire!

    Solar: indeed! I haven't been paying enough attention to that tech. Add that to both of our reading lists.

    Intertie regs in SD: I don't know for sure, but I've heard our PUC and some communities have been very resistant to the idea. We have this unhealthy affinity for the status quo.

  5. South Dakota's apparent retro grid intertie attitude is one of the reasons why I'm looking at Wyoming for this project, and not at South Dakota. If I'm wrong about this, someone please set me straight!

    Another reason: The increasing evidence that South Dakota is losing its tradition of fiscal responsibility. Always in the back of my mind, the threat of an income tax lurks; such would represent a straightaway pay cut that I could ill afford.

    The final straw, which actually provoked the current sojourn to Wild, Windy Cody Country: Black Hills Power's proposed 26-percent rate hike, ostensibly to help pay for a coal-fired power plant!

    Gubernatorial candidates, are you reading this?

    With all this searching and exploring, I've received some reminders that one must always triple-check the facts. Most of Cody's electricity comes from coal. Someone had told me it all comes from hydro, but the Rocky Mountain Power office is right next to my hotel, so I went in and got The Inconvenient Truth. Not only does coal drive most of Wyoming's power grid, but RMP is asking for a 12-percent rate increase in anticipation of cap-and-trade, which hasn't even become law yet.

    I'll keep working on this, and maybe the dream will materialize "if the good Lord's willin' and the crick don't rise."


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