Xcel Energy's wind farm in beginning stages of becoming a reality

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CODINGTON/DEUEL COUNTY Xcel Energy is moving forward with the Crown Ridge project, which will be South Dakota's largest wind farm. Codington, Deuel and Grant counties are all involved in the project.

Describing the pros to bringing in such a large wind farm could begin anywhere. Xcel Energy is shifting their focus from nuclear power to wind energy.

"The emphasis is going more to renewable energy and it's going to be a huge step for Xcel Energy to build this huge wind farm," says Roger Solum, an energy instructor at Lake Area Technical Institute.

Wind prices are at a historic low, which helps Xcel Energy to move forward with their projects. Their $900-million project will bring benefits to their surrounding communities.

"Construction jobs, the property tax base, the payments to local land owners that host wind turbines on their property, and all the collateral activity that happens around for projects like that," explains Laura McCarten, the regional vice president at Xcel Energy.

While there's plenty of positive outlooks on the wind farm going in these three counties, there's always two sides to every story.

"I think the biggest thing right now is the aesthetics. People don't like to see these things," says Solum.

But overall, it allows schools, like Lake Area Technical Institute, to provide another opportunity for good paying jobs in their region in the energy sector. It's also a big investment for the state with a big impact of lower bills for Xcel Energy customers.

The Crown Ridge Project is in the stages of receiving permits, but it's expected to become operational in 2020.