New solar farm energizes South Dakota.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 26, 2024
South Dakota's largest solar farm just came online.jpegOrginal image from:

South Dakota recently welcomed its largest solar farm, Wild Springs, online in Pennington County. This 128-megawatt (MW) solar farm, located in the Southwest Power Pool, is set to make a significant impact on the state’s renewable energy landscape. With a 114 MW power purchase agreement with Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Wild Springs is expected to generate around $29.5 million in direct economic impact over the first 20 years of operation.

Environmental Impact and Benefits

Wild Springs is projected to produce enough clean electricity to power approximately 37,000 homes annually. Moreover, the solar farm is estimated to prevent 190,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, equivalent to removing 42,000 cars from the road. In a unique move, National Grid Renewables, the company behind the project, will donate $500,000 to the local New Underwood school district over the next two decades.

Solar Energy in South Dakota

While solar energy is still in its early stages in South Dakota, the state boasts 268 MW of installed solar capacity. Despite its current ranking of 42nd in installed solar capacity, the state is expected to drop to 47th place in the next five years. However, South Dakota is a wind energy powerhouse, with wind contributing 55% of the state’s total in-state net generation in 2022.

Renewable Energy in South Dakota

Overall, renewable resources accounted for about 84% of South Dakota’s in-state electricity net generation in 2022. The state’s focus on renewable energy aligns with its efforts to reduce reliance on petroleum. While South Dakota uses less total petroleum than most states, its per capita consumption is higher due to its smaller population.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Approach

Basin Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, has taken an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy generation. By incorporating solar energy into its portfolio alongside coal, natural gas, and wind resources, Basin Electric is diversifying its energy mix. The utility’s commitment to solar energy is part of a broader strategy that includes plans for a multi-billion-dollar natural gas-fired power plant in North Dakota.

Future of Solar Power in South Dakota

As South Dakota continues to expand its renewable energy capacity, the addition of Wild Springs marks a significant milestone in the state’s clean energy transition. With ongoing advancements in solar technology and increasing awareness of the benefits of renewable energy, South Dakota is poised to further embrace solar power as a key component of its energy portfolio.

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