Today, November 18, 210, Basin Electric Power Cooperative based in Bismarck, ND, will receive a USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities loan guarantee for $153,396,000 for two wind projects in Mina, ND. Together these projects will provide 120 MW of renewable electricity. Combined with Basin’s previous wind investments, they are expected to represent over 600 MW of wind generation – enough to power the average annual needs of 175,000 homes.
Complimenting that effort, USDA Rural Development Area Director Trace Davids represented USDA at a press conference held at the office of Sioux Valley Energy, Brandon, SD last month. The start of construction and two other aspects of this project were also introduced. The first was announced by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. She reported that a $1.167 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration had been approved for the Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), Mitchell, SD to purchase one of the wind towers for use in its wind technician degree program.
In making the announcement, Herseth Sandlin said, “This project is the perfect example of how the private sector, industry, federal and state partnerships can build South Dakota’s new energy economy. This is a unique project that combines the innovate spirit of South Dakota – and of course North Dakota, too – with tax incentives and grants that Congress has put into place to provide stability and growth to the wind energy industry.”
The Crow Lake Wind Project will consist of 108 turbines located throughout Aurora, Brule and Jerauld Counties just east of Chamberlain in the south-central part of the state. A subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, PrairieWinds SD 1 Inc., will own and operate 101 turbines; however turbine “101” will be used by MTI.
Another seven turbines will be owned by South Dakota Wind Partners. PrarieWinds will construct the seven turbines for the Wind Partners and operate them. Through PrairieWinds, Basin Electric will purchase the electricity that’s produced from those turbines. The Wind Partners announced in late September they had raised the $16.8 million required from South Dakota investors for their part of the project.
When completed in early 2011, the Crow Lake Wind Project will have a generating capacity of 151.5 megawatts, the Wind Partners project will have a capacity of 10.5 megawatts. The Crow Lake Wind Project will be the largest wind project in the United States owned solely by a cooperative.
Ron Harper, Basin Electric’s CEO and general manager, said there’s been much progress since this project was started more than three years ago. “Basin Electric and its member systems are a leader in developing or helping to develop wind energy in the Dakotas,” he said. “These are the fourth and fifth wind projects involving Basin Electric in South Dakota since early 2002.”
When the South Dakota project is completed, Basin Electric will have more than 700 megawatts of wind generation in its portfolio.
To find out more about USDA’s funding of projects to improve America’s power grid click here.