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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moody County Working on Wind Power -- Lake County, Catch Up!

Hat tip to John Walker!

Moody County is moving ahead of Lake County on the wind power front. The Moody County Commission is updating its zoning rules for wind farms. Colorado wind energy developer Distributed Generation Systems has been measuring wind around Flandreau since last year. DisGen has done two wind projects, a 10-MW wind farm in Pennsylvania and a 16-MW farm in Colorado. They're also working on a number of Native American wind projects, including a 30-MW project with our neighbors on the Rosebud. In an August interview, DisGen project development manager Mike Moldal said the Moody County development could be bigger:

He said Flandreau East is a potentially 100-400 megawatt project (Moldal later refined his estimate of the project to "at least 50, maybe 100" megawatts) that would be located on high ground east of Flandreau. Moldal estimates that the project would include between 50 and 200 wind turbines and would span 12,000 acres. Santee involvement sought Disgen is in the process of working with private landowners in that area and will also offer the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe an opportunity to be involved in the project. The Flandreau West project would span a considerably smaller 640 acres west of Egan. Moldal said he has been in negotiations with three different landowners in that area, including John and Monte Mousel, Berdyne Bowen, and Arvin and Carol Van Holland. "We've tied up a section of land up there," he said. "Those three landowners are very excited about this project, and we anticipate installing 10-12 turbines for a project just shy of 20 megawatts" [Ryan Woodard, "Wind Power in Moody County's Future?" Brookings Register, 2009.08.28].

If Moody County can draw wind energy projects like that, so can Lake County. Federal data shows the wind whipping Junius and Madison is at least as strong as what blows by Flandreau and Egan. But when even local wind developers get a lukewarm response from the city (go check with Heartland? that's the best we can manage?), we're just asking to be left behind in the drive to capitalize on modern energy technology.

As the LAIC struggles to recoup lost jobs in Lake County, perhaps they should get us on the radar of DisGen and other wind developers who could bring some green jobs and green energy to our side of the Lake-Moody county line.


  1. Cory imho,

    This concept is being driven, at least in part, by. South Dakota's lack of a corporate income tax and lack of environmental oversight.

    Clearly, these alternatives are preferable to current centralized modes of electrical generation, even though I believe wind farms constitute a massive assault on the landscape.

    The grid is notoriously vulnerable to weather, evidenced by recent events. Cyber-attacks are becoming more likely as well.

    Supporting individual homeowners' off-grid electrical generation seems more reliable and friendlier to the Earth than allowing the proliferation of these megaliths.

    -larry kurtz

  2. Larry, I'll take some of both. My concern is that here in Madison, we have Heartland acting on behalf of the power industry to discourage small wind projects and protect big industrial projects. Our city generates and sells some of its own power already; I'd love to see them expand that capacity with some wind turbines, whether by plugging in to the two turbines Amerts want to build or by building their own small wind facility in Rod Goeman's backyard.

    I sympathize with concerns about the landscape... but I'm still inclined to believe that properly sited wind turbines will do less offense to my eyes and ears than more coal plants will do to my lungs. I am open, though to evidence to the contrary.

    Whether Madison itself spends money to build wind turbines, or whether Madison tells Dwaine Chapel to spend a few marketing dollars contacting wind companies to let them know we're full of hot air, or whether the city and county just pass clear regulations that facilitate private investment, home and industrial, in wind power, it's clear we could be moving a little faster to promote energy alternatives.

  3. In County Government, it is rare that a commissioner brings forward a proposal or new regulations. Most of the time, they work full or part-time jobs and focus on what is on the next agenda, rather than be proactive. That's not a bad thing, just the way it is.

    Typically, as in the Moody County case, an organization approaches the commissioners which spurs the need for regulations within the county.

    It would make sense for Lake County and the City of Madison in conjunction with LAIC, East River, Heartland and other organizations to appoint a committee that takes one year to lay out a wind power development plan, study what other areas of the country are doing successfully and emulate it for economic growth in our county.

    Now is the time, today is the day. We can't afford to fall behind on this development issue.


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