The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved a construction permit for the Sweetland Wind Farm, a 200 MW wind energy facility near Miller, S.D.
Scout Clean Energy, a Colorado-based renewable energy developer, owner and operator, expects to complete the $240 million facility and begin operations by Dec. 31, 2020. However, construction will not commence until the company finds a buyer for the electricity generated by the project.
“We are very fortunate to have a 200 MW project fully permitted in South Dakota,” states Michael Rucker, founder and CEO of Scout. “The project’s top-tier wind resource and strategic location in the Southwest Power Pool make it attractive for potential investors looking to expand their renewable energy footprint in the region. We have already had significant interest in the project and are working toward completing a power purchase agreement (PPA).”
The commission discussed and voted on 45 conditions to be imposed on the permit at the PUC’s regular meeting in Pierre on July 25. Aircraft detection lighting, avian and bat mortality, land restoration, decommissioning, noise level, and shadow flicker are among the issues addressed in the conditions. A specific setback requirement for the land of intervenor Theresa Lichty, established through negotiations between Lichty and Scout, was also included.
The Sweetland Wind Farm will span a 20,979-acre area in Hand County and include up to 71 GE 2.82 MW wind turbines. Other components of the project will include a 230 kV generation tie-in transmission facility running five miles, access roads, an operations and maintenance facility, up to four meteorological towers, underground 34.5 kV electrical collector lines, an underground fiber optic cable, a collection substation, a switchyard, and additional temporary construction areas.
Scout filed its application with the PUC on March 6. At the time, state law required the commission to make a decision within six months of receiving a wind energy facility application.
“The swiftness of this wind docket is abnormal,” comments Gary Hanson, PUC chairman. “Usually, meeting the six-month deadline, especially with so many wind farm dockets before us, is challenging. Each issue and concern must be explored in the interest of protecting consumers and the citizens of South Dakota. The absence of opposition, strong local support and community’s experience with wind farms are reflected in the swiftness of this proceeding.”
Chris Nelson, PUC vice chairman, adds, “We began on a pretty rocky road with this particular wind farm, and fortunately, we’ve been able to move past that. The applicant was willing to work directly with a concerned intervenor to resolve issues as opposed to going through a hearing process. Both the company and intervenor Theresa Lichty should be commended for their participation and willingness to work together.”
According to Scout, the project will result in 200 temporary construction jobs and 10 permanent full-time positions once the facility begins operations. The community economic benefits are estimated to be $35 million in tax revenue over the life of the project.
Scout is a portfolio company of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a global investment manager specializing in lower-carbon and renewable energy infrastructure assets. Construction will be managed by Scout.
David Scaysbrook of Quinbrook and chairman of Scout’s board of directors, says, “This is another important milestone for Scout, which continues building its diverse and growing wind power portfolio, which has expanded to over 2.3 GW in 10 states.”