NORTH OF WATERTOWN, S.D. Xcel Energy recently announced plans for a new wind farm in Northeast South Dakota. Apex Clean Energy is partnering with Xcel to build wind turbines on more than 40,000 acres in Codington and Grant counties - about 20 miles north of Watertown.
Xcel Energy is excited for its new Dakota Range I and II project near Watertown. It'll be a 300-megawatt wind farm that could power around 157,000 homes in the upper Midwest.
When Apex Clean Energy applied for its conditional use permit, Grant County officials held a hearing to gauge the public's opinion on the wind farm.
"Everybody that did speak in favor spoke highly of the relationships that they were building with Apex System and they're real favorable as far as the footprint goes and there wasn't any issues discussed by the board that were issues that would stop a conditional use permit being the best thing that could've happened," Grant County Planning & Zoning Officer Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker said.
During the hearing, Apex Clean Energy said 70 landowners were on board. Out of those landowners, at least half a million dollars had already been paid out for their easements and leases.
This wind farm is a huge economic boost to the South Dakota economy.
"The construction of this project will bring 150-200 construction jobs. We typically use a lot of local vendors and suppliers," Xcel Energy Regional Vice President Laura McCarten said. "Once its' operating, it will be 11 full time jobs to operate the wind farms."
Landowners, county officials and residents have plenty of optimistic outlooks for what's ahead.
"From what we could see landowners were happy, the board of adjustment was happy and able to ask all of their questions and had answers really up front and everybody felt really good about where we're going," Atyeo-Gortmaker said.
Construction on the wind farm won't begin until 2019 with hopeful complete in 2021. Some of the wind turbines will be visible off I-29 near the South Shore exit.
McCarten says that after the Dakota Ridge and Crown Ridge projects are complete, South Dakota will account for 10% of Xcel Energy's total wind energy portfolio.
For more information on this project or the Crown Ridge one, visit the links to the right of the article.