So didn't Iberdrola get the memo that wind power is dead without Big Stone II? They are Spanish: maybe they missed the translation. All they seem to hear is ¡En Dakota hay mucho viento! ¡Mucho, mucho viento! ¡Arriba!
Crazy Spaniards. So crazy that they want to build the biggest wind farm in the state, 350 megawatts, part of it right here in Lake County. So says the lead story in Friday's print MDL. Iberdrola already operates MinnDakota and Buffalo Ridge I in Brookings County, wind farms with 54 and 50.4 megawatt capacities, respectively. Iberdrola expects to finish Buffalo Ridge II, a 210-megawatt project in Brookings and Deuel counties that by the end of this year will be the biggest wind farm in the state. Iberdrola has proposed another 170 megawatts of wind power with Buffalo Ridge III.
The proposal announced Friday, called the Minnehaha West Wind Project, would stretch across two Lake County townships, three in McCook, and three in Minnehaha. Iberdrola is talking with landowners in Lake County's Orland and Franklin townships, just four miles south of Madison. The landowners, I'm sure, are bound by super-secret non-disclosure agreements—that's why none are quoted in Elisa Sand's Friday report and why we don't get any more specific about sites than township. (Remember, farmers: go for the lease, not the one-time payment!)
But just four miles south of Madison. That's funny: Mayor Hexom told me last October that Lake County isn't an appealing place to build wind farms, since our wind potential is lower than other places in South Dakota, like Wessington Springs where Heartland is involved in a 51-megawatt wind farm. Now Iberdrola's going to bring almost seven times that clean generating capacity right to Madison's doorstep. Looks like Lake County can compete in the wind market after all. Or the Spaniards are just crazy.
Let's see... Iberdrola told the press last week that their projects so far have generated or supported over 1700 temporary jobs and created 64 permanent jobs in South Dakota alone. Building perhaps 175 wind turbines just ten miles south of my house should keep a lot of folks busy... and send a lot of workers to Buffalo Trading Post, Montrose, Colton, and Chester for lunch. Fire up the grill, Aunt Virginia!
As I review the numbers, I see South Dakota has 413 megawatts of wind power installed, another 300 megawatts under construction. (See this map of South Dakota wind projects from last fall.) Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson tells Elisa Sand that by Christmas, we'll have enough wind capacity to power half the homes in South Dakota. (Yes, Mike, I know, wind doesn't blow all the time, so divide by two.) Dakota Wind has applied for 300 megawatts of the transmission intended for Big Stone II. Moody County may attract a 100-megawatt project. And the South Dakota Wind Energy Association is looking into developing another 1000 megawatts (that's a gigawatt!) of South Dakota wind energy.
Boy, if this is wind power growth when it's stymied, I can't imagine what full-throttle wind power growth looks like.