Black Hills boosting renewable power in South Dakota, Wyoming
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Black Hills Corp. says its move to establish a massive wind farm in Wyoming aims to help its largest consumers fulfill their sustainability goals but doesn’t signify a shift from traditional energy production.
The South Dakota utility is seeking regulatory approval for a proposed $57 million, 40-megawatt wind farm west of Cheyenne.
Nick Gardner, vice president of electric operations at Black Hills Corp., said large companies and governmental agencies are demanding more renewable energy, but that the company must balance customers’ expectations with shareholder needs.
“As we move into the future and we continue to monitor the developments and technology available, when it comes to renewables, whether it’s wind or solar, we’ll certainly be engaged in that but at this point in time we’re committed to the resources that we have and own in Gillette, Wyoming,” said Gardner.
The energy produced by the wind farm will be divided 50-50 between consumers in Wyoming and South Dakota. Companies in South Dakota have committed to using about 65 percent of that state’s 20 megawatts by the end of September 2020.
Renewable Ready Service Tariff is an additional fee any company using the energy will have on their bill, if the company’s filings are successful. It would be a fixed rate charge per kilowatt hour of energy used. Gardner said 40 megawatts is equal to the amount of power used by about 20,000 homes for an entire year.
Corriedale Wind Energy Project is the official name for the wind farm near Cheyenne. It is the primary renewable energy project currently serving South Dakotan customers. Gardner said rebuilding and modernizing the utility’s distribution system was a near-term priority because it is close to completing a $70 million rebuild of its transmission lines extending to Eagle, Nebraska. The company is also considering building a solar farm near Edgemont.
Black Hills Energy provides natural gas service to Lincoln and more than 300 cities and towns in Nebraska. It doesn’t offer retail electrical service here, but became state’s the largest natural gas provider in 2016 when it acquired SourceGas.