As the fifth windiest state in the US and the second state in terms of electricity already sourced from wind energy (26 percent) South Dakota offers impressive potential.
It is also very relevant because it has a similar wind resource to Saskatchewan, is only 300 km. distant from our province in addition to which the land area and population density of the state is almost identical to the land area and population density of the southern half of Saskatchewan.
One ambitious developer, Dakota Plains Energy, wants to see the majority of that economic potential staying in South Dakota.
Dakota Plains announced in 2013 that it plans to build a community-owned wind farm (Dakota Power Community Wind - DPCW) of between 250 and 500 turbines at a cost of $1 to 2-billion. There are a number of large wind projects under consideration in the US - but what makes DPCW so unique is that the intent is for it to be entirely owned by South Dakotans.
The project aims to secure 65,000 to 75,000 acres of land and as of April 2014 had signed up 80 landowners with 22,000 acres. In mid June DPCW started raising $4-million of capital from local investors to pay for initial wind testing and permits.
DPCW is only possible because of a major transmission line, Rock Island Clean Line, which will take substantial amounts of wind energy from Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa to major load centres in Illinois. While Saskatchewan does not currently have such transmission opportunities - we do have a world class wind resource, lots of land, savvy farmers, a creative business community and engaged communities. With that the sky's the limit!