Prevailing Winds moved yesterday to withdraw its application to build a 100-turbine, 201-megawatt wind farm in Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties. In a document submitted to the Public Utilities Commission, Prevailing Winds it wants more time to win public support:
The Prevailing Winds project is a community wind project and community is very important to the Prevailing Winds Investors and Board of Governors. Unfortunately, misinformation has been circulated about the project. Keeping the interests of the community and the project in mind, Prevailing Winds is moving to withdraw the Application to allow Prevailing Winds to better inform the community on the wind project and allow Prevailing Winds to revisit its options regarding the project [Prevailing Winds LLC, Motion to Withdraw Application Without Prejudice, Docket No. EL 16-022, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, 2016.08.30].
The PUC will consider the motion at its September 13 meeting. The withdrawal would moot applications from dozens of citizens to intervene in the application process. 46 locals (and a gal from British Columbia) applied last week to oppose Prevailing Winds’ permit, based on “concerns regarding the applicant’s compliance with applicable laws and rules; concerns involving the environmental, social, and economic injury the project will have on the applicants and the area; concerns that the project will impair the health, safety, and welfare of the applicants and inhabitants of the area; and concerns that the project will interfere with the orderly development of the region.” Two individual applicants cited similar concerns. Former legislator Ed Van Gerpen has applied to intervene, claiming that “Prevailing Winds have not provided ac[c]urate information to the public.”
While Prevailing Winds takes time to provide more accurate information to the public, the Iowa Utilities Board has approved MidAmerican Energy’s $3.6-billion, 1,000-turbine, 2,000-megawatt multi-site wind energy project, planned for completion by the end of 2019. MidAmerican’s investment comes on top of Alliant Energy’s announcement in July (with Governor Terry Branstad at the CEO’s side) that it will spend $1 billion adding 500 megawatts of wind energy generation in Iowa.
We South Dakotans, along with all Americans, will help pay for MidAmerican’s Iowa wind project via federal subsidy:
The entire cost of the project planned to be recouped through federal production tax credits over 10 years, so the company is not seeking financial assistance from the state. Nor will customer rates be increased, according to MidAmerican officials.
“The early approval helps ensure MidAmerican can take full advantage of the recently extended federal wind production tax credit — a policy we support,” said Nathaniel Baer, energy program director with Iowa Environment Council, in a prepared statement [Mitchell Schmidt, “Iowa Board Approves $3.6 Billion MidAmerican Wind Farm,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2016.08.29].
South Dakota has more land with strong wind power potential than Iowa. The Prevailing Winds project could bring some of those federal wind production tax credits home to stimulate our economy. But we appear content to block development and let Iowa and other progressive states cash in on the energy that’s blowing across their land.