Some Avon Residents Balk at Wind Power; Pierre Building Biggest Solar Plant in SD

Conservatives celebrate Big Oil projects and ridicule environmentalists who argue that we should leave oil in the ground. Yet conservative former legislator, now Bon Homme County Commission candidate, Ed Van Gerpen wants to leave South Dakota’s most abundant potential energy resource untapped. At a public meeting hosted Wednesday in Avon by the Public Utilities Commission and attended by around 300 people, Van Gerpen said he doesn’t want the big 100-turbine, 201-megawatt Prevailing Winds power project in his backyard:

Former state legislator Ed Van Gerpen of Avon strongly opposes the wind project, alluding to the size of the operation and its investors.

“I’m starting to feel like David and Goliath,” he said.

Van Gerpen held up his Avon Pirate cap, noting the school and mascot represent the true spirit of the community. “What angers me is (Prevailing Winds investors) want to change our community to the wind capital of South Dakota,” he said.

Van Gerpen disputed the figures on the amount of revenue the Avon school district would see from the wind farm.

He also warned that area residents stand to hold the bag when it comes to expenses. “As more wind power comes on line, the additional costs will be passed on to the consumers,” he warned [Randy Dockendorf, “Airing Opinions,” Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2016.08.25].

The Prevailing Winds project could supply enough electricity to power ten rural electric cooperatives… on windy days. Those wind turbines leave area residents holding a smaller bag of environmental hazards than neighbors of the giant CAFOs trying to expand in Bon Homme County and the Keystone Pipeline leaking in neighboring Hutchinson County.

Reporter Bob Mercer allows himself a literary detour from the energy and environmental issues at stake and observes the community dynamics on display at Wednesday’s meeting:

What stood out as well was the gym. The wooden parquet floor shined a natural gold. Names of local businesses and other supporters were painted along the school-red boundary to the court. On an end wall a display held the names of the sponsors of the floor-restoration project from about 20 years ago. Overhead hung two rows of banners, celebrating championships and strong finishes in state tournaments, including the South Dakota titles won in girls volleyball and nine-man football….

One of the concerns in the crowd on Wednesday night was that the community could be permanently divided over a wind project within sight north of town. This visitor wondered whether the gym would feel the same in the future, as a place of pride in a community’s young people, to the hundreds of people who went to the PUC meeting. The floor will still be there. The banners will still be there. The test ahead is whether the communal pride can still be there, whether the possibility of 100 white wind towers will or won’t overwhelm the bond, the tradition, of the red and gold [Bob Mercer, “The Banners in the Avon Gym,” Pure Pierre Politics, 2016.08.26].

Apparently not dividing the community is Missouri River Energy Services’ new one-megawatt solar energy project at the Pierre airport.

The project is visible from North Airport Road, near the rural fire station. There will be 11 rows of solar panels, each 500 feet long, and another two shorter rows of 400 feet.

The whole project will generate 1 megawatt of power, or just about 3 percent of Pierre’s needs, said Leon Schochenmaier, city administrator [Lee Zion, “Construction Underway for Solar Project at Airport,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2016.08.25].

The MRES Pierre project will be the largest solar installation in South Dakota. Its power output will equal the annual power consumption of 200 homes.

If we had oil lying underground in Avon or Pierre, we’d be erecting derricks and laying pipeline as fast as we could. We have wind and sun all around us. Pierre isn’t hesitating to tap that solar power; why would Avon hesitate to tap its own abundant energy resources?

96 Responses to Some Avon Residents Balk at Wind Power; Pierre Building Biggest Solar Plant in SD

  1. Wow a republican refusing something.

  2. Darin Larson

    “What angers me is (Prevailing Winds investors) want to change our community to the wind capital of South Dakota,” Van Gerpen said.

    Don’t worry Mr. Van Gerpen, Pierre will always be the wind capital of South Dakota.

    He talks about feeling like David against Goliath. He could be talking about the oil companies that have been drilling all over the country.

    Here we have a huge green energy economic development project that will provide good jobs in SD and because it is not dirty nonrenewable oil, Van Gerpen opposes it? Drill baby drill? How about blow wind blow?

  3. Ed is in the ALEC corner, a Koch brother from a different mother.

  4. Mr. Van Gerpen, while much younger than a Consertative With Common Sense like me, is far more curmudgeonly.

  5. If you’re a rural radical anti-liberal, then I can see how it might hurt your puny little sensitive feelings having to endure the sight of a solar or wind farm.

    It’s hysterically funny, and bombastically sappy, how this proposal makes residents question their very own self and community identity as well as sense of pride. OMG – LOL – liberals are coming to squash your radical identity though renewable energy. Be afraid, your entire way of life will be destroyed. They’re gonna take all your electricity away by first giving you cheaper electricity. This is the beginning of the end for you folks Avon.

    BOO! (scary)

  6. Robert McTaggart

    Even liberals can object to the siting of wind power…just look at what happens when they try to put wind power just offshore in Massachusetts.

  7. McTaggert, yes, but the reasons for opposing such things are very different. They will object to a location but not the idea of wind power in their communities.

  8. Robert McTaggart

    Yes, wind power is great as long as the turbines are not placed next to them :^).

  9. It’s the anti-liberal culture that keeps SD one of the very least renewable energy developed states in the union… And look at all the open space we have.

    It’s nonsensical for ranchers and farmers to avoid promoting wind and solar to ease their very own pocketbooks – with all that wide open space across the state – their ideology shoots themselves in the foot.

  10. Robert McTaggart

    Well, that open space is highly desired by farmers and ranchers, and South Dakotans in general like the open spaces. They may rather promote biofuel or biomass instead for their renewables.

  11. Leaving this here:

    TL;DR: wind isn’t as cheap as you think it is, largely because of the failure to account for public subsidization of wind energy is cost estimates. In 2010 the wind energy sector received 42% of total federal subsidies while producing only 2% of the nation’s total electricity. By comparison, coal receives 10% of all subsidies and generates 45% and nuclear is about even at about 20%. Further, The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University found that, as of 2010, 84% of total clean-energy grants awarded by the federal government went to foreign-owned wind companies. In a year where people, particularly the Sanders and Trump supporters, have gone anti-globalist and fapped to economic protectionism through opposing the TPP, it’s insanely ironic to see Wind Energy seen as a good thing in this context.

  12. Troy Jones


    I strongly support wind energy but you have to have your facts straight or you diminish the credible arguments for wind energy.

    1) Wind power has minimal impact on farmers and ranchers because they use relatively low amounts of electricity. They use and need significant more BTU’s from fossil fuels. That is what they care about. It doesn’t serve the cause of wind to over-state the economic interest farmers and ranchers have in wind power.

    2) Wind doesn’t produce lower cost electricity vs. what we get especially from water or coal in SD. What wind does for us economically is it provides a surge capacity which effectively increases the capacity of our transmission lines and ultimately will either delay or allow us to forego significant grid/transmission expansion.

  13. Funny, I just Googled “cost of wind power vs coal” and immediately found that:

    “According to the federal Energy Information Administration, the ‘leveled cost’ of new wind power (including capital and operating costs) is 8.2 cents per kWh. Advanced clean-coal plants cost about 11 cents per kWh, the same as nuclear.” – Forbes Magazine

    Montana Environmental Information Center says, ” Wind energy is cost-competitive with fossil fuels, especially coal. In Montana, wind energy is less expensive than coal…” and “There are integration costs associated with intermittent renewable energy but unlike fossil fuels, wind (and solar and many other renewables) the fuel price stays the same: Zero.”

    Solar power is now cheaper than coal and wind power. The only real problem with renewables is a bad for business, bad for America, radical ideology in conservative culture.

  14. Troy Jones


    That is an incomplete analysis because of the unreliability of wind (blows too hard or doesn’t blow) because the “cost of wind” you reference doesn’t include storage capacity to solve the reliability issue. Plus, it assumes the construction of a new coal generating plant without the writing off of the existing investment and infrastructure of coal.

    Under current technologies and infrastructure, there is an optimal mix between “unreliable” sources (wind and solar) and “reliable” sources (water, coal, nuclear) which I think is roughly 80% reliable and 20% unreliable. We have not yet reached this 4:1 ratio so further investment is warranted.

    The facts in context are sufficient to justify further investment but “facts” out of context don’t move the ball forward.

  15. People like Troy are part of the problem.

  16. Donald Pay

    This is a lot of wind generation. Where’s the electricity going? I know Wisconsin is building lots of transmission capacity to carry wind-generated electricity from Minnesota and the Dakotas. Walker has stymied wind here, because he’s a Koch puppet, but the utilities and transmission companies don’t care much for the Kochs and are building for the future, which they see as wind and solar.

    I support wind power, but you do have to take into consideration how the community feels, environmental issues, etc. I prefer smaller wind projects that serve the local service area, but whatever the community decides is fine with me. Wind power wouldn’t have near the impact of a nuke dump, but it makes sense that the community should have a say in it.

    South Dakota has ample wind which could be combined with pumped storage in the Missouri River System. That might solve storage during some parts of the year, but then you might have the conundrum of how to manage the water levels, etc.

  17. SD generates plenty of renewable energy he cries.

  18. Why not use BLM land in western South Dakota and in the national grasslands by Pierre for these generators? There is plenty of federal land around the state to really put some juice in the economy in all of these areas.

  19. Robert McTaggart

    Because there would need to be new transmission infrastructure set up, unless there were a dedicated application that doesn’t require access to the grid. The wind energy characteristics at a given site are also of interest.

    Plus maybe people want to see grasslands in their natural state, which historically did not include wind turbines.

  20. I take pride in Pierre for having the initiative to enter the solar energy arena but shame for Ed Van Gerpen and his supporters for being such change-resistant luddites. It just shows you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

    Sorry about the cliche.

  21. Roger Cornelius

    Once again South Dakota conservatives oppose something that is in their own best interests.

  22. I wonder if the mayor of Pierre is a left-leaning libbie. You won’t see Deadwood doing this any time soon.

  23. Darin Larson

    Van Gerpen is tilting at windmills when he talks about the school pirate mascot representing the community and how upset he is that they might become known for windmills. He’d rather be known as a pirate than be associated with liberal-minded wind power.

    You wonder why the legislature is so backwards? Exhibit A: Mr. Van Gerpen, who I’m sure is a fine fellow, but he’s stuck in the 1960’s. (We’re still not going to find the money to fund education under rocks, pebbles or even boulders.)

  24. Mr. Van Gerpen has always been a little addle minded. Mr. Larson, your second graph is perfect.

  25. Troy Jones

    Donald Pay,

    I think water levels drive the release water and not electricity needs at the dams and there are times when not all the turbines are generating electricity even though water is going through. Could be wrong but what I remember from growing up in Pierre.

    You are onto something. Transmission lines are a big expense (might be more than the towers?). In my mind, wind works best during surge periods (a/c needs during day in summer for example happens to also be when the winds blow) which makes it intuitively conducive to wind farms which serve local areas and don’t require transmission lines.

  26. Darin Larson

    There’s a story on about Iowa getting a three-billion-dollar wind farm that will be enough power for 85% of the power customers in a certain District or enough for 800,000 homes. But the Van Gerpen story is why we can’t have nice things like this in South Dakota, the Saudi Arabia of wind.

  27. We need new lines built, what better place to build them than on land the public already owns. When this place was homesteaded, there were windmills historically.

  28. Yeah Darin, and others, drive I-90 thru Minnesota and I-35 or Avenue of the Saints thru Iowa and see how states that care for the needs of their citizens and USA develop wind power! Change the political power structure in SD and bring us into the new century… They (GOP) will throw a bone (like the 80 mph speed limit) to the masses and congratulate themselves on ‘job well done’ while always ignoring EB-5, Gear-Up and alternative power. Thus electing do-nothing seat-warmers like Noem, Rounds and Thune to powerful positions and a lifetime pension.

  29. doc, u r funy. “people want to see grasslands in their natural state, which historically did not include:” (insert)…heap leach pads on top of mountain tops. ski runs, ect; mis-permited well pads for DEEP oil wells in non-productive geology with broken, uncapped well stems with ineffective reclamation bonds (130,000 vs. $2 million); uranium mining proposals in Edgemont; and of course historical uranium mines unreclaimed and blowing in the wind for 50 years. thank god for the EPA which has stepped in. red-governor appointed permit boards subject to massive pro-development politics don’t seem effective in SD.

  30. does Sen. (R.) river rat rounds still want to rid the republican voters of the EPA protections?

  31. I think energy policy is only interesting to conservatives when they can make it about getting oil out from underneath Arab sand.

  32. Robert McTaggart

    If you want to go to a national park to see wind turbines instead of the grasslands…whatever floats your boat I guess ;^).

    I’m all in favor of uranium mining reclamation. Like nuclear waste management at the end of the fuel cycle, there is the same responsibility at the front end of the fuel cycle. The extra effort necessary for dealing with chemical wastes produced in the manufacture of solar cells or recycling them at the end of their life cycle shouldn’t stop us from making solar cells either.

    Some microbes will collect uranium and other heavy metals and can be used in reclamation efforts. Same thing for different plants.

    Would be pretty ironic if a beneficial microbe for uranium reclamation were to exist at the bottom of the borehole, and we missed it.

  33. Robert McTaggart

    Some conservatives like solar, since it appeals to their interests in energy independence. Some Democrats like nuclear because it can produce a lot of carbon-free energy and support a lot of higher-paying jobs.

  34. Troy Jones


    I know you are wrong. Conservatives desire the lowest all-in-cost energy for individuals and business.

    For individuals, add $100 to the cost of energy or increase taxes $100, their discretionary spendable income/standard of living drops $100.

    For business, add $100 to the cost of energy, the company has less discretionary spendable cash flow for future investment or wages for employees.

    And vice versa.

  35. I guess the proof is that both North and South Dakota proves you correct is that you all got sent packing with your nukes. I wonder when Ed will move out of the area as usually the loudest whiner moves after they have mucked things up for everyone else.

  36. Why does Avon hate the jobs that will come there? Why do they hate the American workers who manufacture the wind chargers, the local folks that will help erect them, the folks who will transport them. The list goes on.

  37. Robert McTaggart

    No nuclear waste would have been delivered as part of what was a geological drilling operation.

    Do you really believe in public consent? Should wind power be forced upon a community if it does not want it, even if you think it is a great idea?

  38. Of course not, that is why it was so good when Spink County sent Heather packing. Avon can keep their hate for American workers and progress. Send the chargers to Blm ground

  39. Gosh, Troy, what you posted about the $100 is just pure genius. I stand in awe of your big brain and I shall never forget the day I learned from you alone that when you have $100 less to spend, then you have $100 less to spend.

    All hail Troy’s big giant brain!

  40. Robert McTaggart

    You don’t have to use up 36,000 acres for a 201 MW wind farm. Are they planning to do anything else on said 36,000 acres?

    By comparison, a nuclear plant of the same power output would require 100 acres. That assumes that the small ones would scale the same way as the larger plants. Plus the nuclear reactor would be on-line 24-7.

  41. You can put wind turbines on land that’s already being farmed which adds income to the farmer. As soon as you drive across the border into MN you can see how we do not require additional land dedicated to the sole use of wind power.

  42. Douglas Wiken

    Some outfit is sending info on a solar electricity plan claiming they will lease up to 160 acres which with their claimed rental rates would be in the neighborhood of $100,000 per year. Land must be adjacent to a 3-phase power line. I haven’t been able to find any more information on this or if it is some variety of a scam.

  43. Robert McTaggart

    Heck, at only 100 acres a pop you could put several reactors in there and still get your wind energy, grow biofuel crops, and collect your solar energy.

  44. Chernobyl used up 1,000 square miles in the zone of death to humans, Nukes are a failure that make no sense.

  45. Robert McTaggart

    Actually, there are families who never evacuated from Chernobyl, and they are fine. The wildlife is actually better there than other places, because the humans have largely moved out. So the characterization of a 1,000 square mile zone of death around Chernobyl is entirely inaccurate.

    Human biology pretty much fails when exposed to very large doses, which some workers at the plant and first responders received. Chernobyl released some short-lived isotopes, like Iodine 131, which some could have avoided intaking if they had been warned sooner.

    The Chernobyl reactor would not have been approved by the NRC. One reason we use water based reactors is that they have a fundamental safety feature. If the power goes up, the water heats up and expands. Neutrons encounter less dense water, and thus fewer neutrons can be slowed down by collisions. Fewer slow neutrons mean fewer fissions, and less power. So a water reactor, if everything else works correctly, will simply oscillate its power levels about a steady average as the water expands and contracts. The behavior is sines and cosines, not positive exponentials.

    Soviet reactors were moderated by graphite, not water. Graphite can burn, which exacerbated what happened. That graphite reactor did not have the same oscillatory safety feature, so power levels needed to be more actively managed.

  46. Canada, as a country, celebrates their use of nuclear power to run the town of Toronto. And they tout the jobs they create and strangely enough still have unions that control the employees. Canada, some libbies think, is a progressive nation which we should strive to emulate. They love nuclear power. It is clean and reliable. And union run.

  47. Robert McTaggart

    Canadian reactors are different. We use regular water but enrich the U-235 content from 0.72% to 3-5%. Canada uses heavy water (a different kind of enrichment), but uses natural uranium.

    In heavy water, the hydrogen has an extra neutron, so the nuclear properties change. Neutrons are more likely to scatter off of it instead of being captured and converted into a gamma ray (which takes away some neutrons that could generate a future fission).

  48. If we wanted to use this heavier Canadian water in reactors, would it be best to haul it in by train car or pipeline, Dr. McTaggart? Could we build sort of a pipeline within a pipeline, snaking a really long hose down the middle of one of the existing pipelines? I would think that water could be pushed through the hose very much quicker than oil and sand tar because it would be like a garden hose and it would take away so little of the capacity of the pipeline.

  49. Doc, that’s interesting. This might be a dumb question, but why do they use heavy water? Is it better or worse somehow?

  50. Go hang around there for your next two week vacation Dr., without hazmat or any other protection. Humans cannot be there for any lengths of time any more than the poor souls who went into the reactors in Japan. Nukes are not safe, never have been and never will be, same goes for their left overs. Wind and sun renewables are the ticket to good clean resources. The only glow you get with solar is an actual glow not the burn that takes your life away in short order.

  51. Robert McTaggart


    It is basically an engineering choice. Each fission releases 2 or 3 neutrons on average. The primary goal of water-based nuclear reactors is to make sure at least one of those neutrons from fission yields another fission to sustain the reaction.

    There are several ways to do that, but principally you are choosing a moderator to slow neutrons down and a fuel that fissions (U-235, U-233, Pu-239, etc.). Anything can be a moderator, but cost, chemistry, ability to slow down neutrons, transfer heat, enter into the decision making.

    It may be that heavy water extraction is just easier or cheaper than the refining of uranium into the fuel. But you have to make your reactor bigger because it will take longer for neutrons to find a U-235 atom (not as many in 0.72% fuel compared with 3-5% fuel).

    Once the fuel/moderator mix is set, you try to convert the heat from fission into electricity.

  52. Robert McTaggart

    Sorry jerry, but the sun is a big fusion reactor….so it is nuclear.

  53. Robert McTaggart


    Heavy water occurs naturally, but exists at very small fractions. There are several processes used to separate it from natural bodies of water. If you have a lake, you have a big reservoir of water with deuterium in it.

    There are also other uses of heavy water besides nuclear reactors.

    I guess you could send it through a pipeline or by truck…the chemistry should be practically the same as regular water…but I do not know how it is transported in Canada.

  54. Robert McTaggart

    And yes jerry, let’s have some of that clean mining of rare earth metals for wind power, and lots of clean chemical processing for those solar cells. I recommend a two week vacation for you in those facilities. Heck, take an extra week ;^).

    Ironically, the one place that brand-new rare earth metals and critical elements for solar panels are being produced today……are in nuclear reactors. But nobody is extracting them from the nuclear wastes to avoid additional mining…those are getting buried with everything else due to the once-through cycle.

  55. Redfield did not want to be Chernobyl, nobody does. Send some pictures of you living next to the reactor for your 2 week vacation or what the hey, make it a month as it is so safe there.

  56. Robert McTaggart

    I’m going to have to quote Ronald Reagan and say “There you go again”: No nuclear material would have been sent to Redfield for the borehole testing.

    I would be happy to send you some pictures, but you probably would say I was photoshopped in there.

  57. It is a beautiful no nuke day in South Dakota, I had better let you go as you are now quoting the gipper.

  58. Robert McTaggart

    I will agree with you that it is a beautiful day in South Dakota :^).

    If it makes you feel any better, I will quote John Kennedy, “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”

  59. barry freed

    Mr McTaggart has claimed many times that there is this scary pollution in the the manufacture of solar cells.
    So I researched it and this by-product is actually something desirable, useful, and marketable. The pollution he refers to is not utilized because there is a tax dodge and complicit Government involved.

    As far a power lines, we have them crisscrossing SD, so the obvious solution is to go for the low hanging fruit and build the first wind chargers near those lines and not far from bigger towns. If more are warranted, then they can move further from existing lines with short spurs, leapfrogging themselves.

    Like income, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep. While we pay tax dollars for Professors to pitch corporate lines instead of working on real, easy, cheap, and proven solutions, we throw away 50% of natural gas by burning it off in the field, we let valuable methane gas rise from our Waste Water Treatment Plants and damage the ozone layer, we ship lumber to the Black Hills from the east coast and vice versa, just to name a few wastes of energy. Nukes are a distraction, a pipe dream to give the illusion of progress some day; keeping the sheep from helping themselves today, as they are thinking there is an answer on the way.

    I built my own solar panel with factory seconds from Germany. The Cells cost 20 cents per Watt delivered and I soldered ribbon to them, then all together to make electricity in my back yard. My 32″ Flatscreen TV is from an RV (12 volt) My lights are LED (12 volt), my stereo is 12 volt and powers my La Scala’s enough to be uncomfortably loud and discourage conversation. My Turntable is also 12 volt as turntables have step-down transformers that can be bypassed to the 12V DC motor that turns the platter. This sheep is not waiting on the pipe dreams.

  60. Robert McTaggart

    Now let’s power the washing machine, the refrigerator, the air conditioner, the lawn mower, the electric car, and heavy industrial users, etc… night. Let’s find the energy to process all the solar cells and deal with the chemical wastes (which as far as I know are NOT powered by solar). And let’s do all of that without emitting carbon from coal or natural gas.

    If only there were a power source that could scale with the demand for energy, emit no carbon, and be available 24/7……hmmm.

    I think your idea regarding placing wind turbines or solar for that matter closer to existing power lines is an interesting one. However, the renewable resources are not necessarily going to be found along those locations. I suspect it will be more expensive to build additional capacity and use the older, inefficient grid infrastructure.

    Wind and solar will face some interesting challenges if they are to expand by 5000% just to produce ~25% of the total energy pie. All of the best locations have been sought out already, much like all of the best farmland is already being utilized. New locations will be more inefficient, and farther away from consumers.

  61. Doc, when you see how solar and wind growth is heavily out pacing all the competition worldwide, and how South Dakota refuses to acknowledge the how it makes Ag land more profitable, I just don’t think there is any excuse for failing to upgrade and expand antiquated transmission lines and enjoy a much much larger piece of the renewable pie.

  62. Robert McTaggart

    There are limits on growth. Just ask the Chinese if they can sustain 10% economic growth….won’t happen. Cost is a major headwind to sustaining annual growth based upon smaller numbers. Finding windy spots or sunny locations that will generate the amount of power you need is another. We are not going to discover any new major rivers for hydropower either.

    That is not to say more solar and wind would be a bad idea. However, in South Dakota there has been more emphasis on biofuels. If you can show that the extra income is substantial compared with growing corn for ethanol (say per acre), then there would be more interest. Plus it would not be incorrect for a farmer to say that biofuel crops are one way of collecting solar energy.

  63. Wind and solar are available 24/7. Ask the night folks in Texas how they wash their clothes for..gasp..Freee. Nuke is so last decade, time to move onto the future. Like Spink County did..

  64. Robert McTaggart

    There you go again. No nuclear material would have come to Spink County.

    Solar is available 24/7?

    Being anti-nuclear is like having a bad case of disco fever. Do you really want to re-live disco?

  65. Instead of digging bore holes for nuclear waste, we should rather dig bore holes for geothermal power plants (I mean, if you’re really into the whole hole thing). Apparently, if we used the geothermal potential of the U.S. to its fullest, we could power 20% of our energy needs.

    Now that’s a bore hole project I can believe in.
    …And a smarter grid would allow for more power to be generated further away from population centers.

  66. Mr. Adam, when they dig The Borehole it is not for nuclear waste, it is #4Science and it is to educate people who are not as up on all this nuclear stuff and boreholes as Dr. McTaggart is because he is an expert, and people like me who are quasi-experts.

    If we discover hot water when we dig The Borehole, then that’s just extra skittles and beer for all of us.

  67. Robert McTaggart

    I have no problem with that. Secondary benefits would occur via the geological information they obtain, and potential carbon capture and storage technologies.

    You could also think about new means of energy storage. When the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, you work to lift something up the borehole. When you need some energy you let it fall.

  68. Storing energy in The Borehole. Brilliant!

    “Let the ballast fall another mile, Willard, we need to spin up another gigawatt to supply lights to that fancy finger-food party at Parker’s Bistro!”

  69. Guess I will have to show that free electric stuff again to you doc,

    Yes, it is possible to have renewable energy at night with the wind blowing during that time while the bright orange ball is shinning during the daytime.

  70. Robert McTaggart

    I would stipulate that the considerations for nuclear waste storage somewhere else stand to benefit from borehole studies more than other ideas today. But the ultimate beneficiaries may be quite different.

    For example, a Yucca Mountain style of repository could win out based upon cost and retrievability. It may also turn out that the larger long-term benefits actually develop for things like geothermal or carbon storage.

    But if you don’t ask the questions, you won’t seek the answers.

  71. Robert McTaggart

    From your article jerry…”It is possible because Texas has more wind power than any other state, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the state’s generation.”

    By far, Texas consumes more energy from natural gas and coal than renewables. Nuclear and non-biomass renewables look about equal, so I am guessing the “other renewables” are mainly wind. So with all that wind, only a fraction of the demand is covered.

  72. The purpose of your dear proposed borehole is, as Battel states, “To determine the feasibility of nuclear waste disposal in this kind of geology.”

    It’s you who, ‘there he goes again’ guaranteeing no possible nuclear waste. And you know that drilling bore holes for geothermal is very different type of hole than for nuclear waste. Why not support geothermal borehole testing far and above nuclear waste holes?

  73. The Spink County folks know bullpuckey when they see it Adam, and all the good doctor and his gang brought was a truckload of it. They even brought along the biggest dog they could find, the governor, and all they saw was the truth through the fake presentation. Now, if only South Dakotans would kick Nelson to the curb he deserves to be kicked to and put Henry in the PUC, we could all feel like we actually have a reason to trust state government. Spink County did us all proud by putting the boot to this rabbit hole.

    Avon needs to take a new look at what this project will mean to them and if they do not, then build it where the wires are. Let’s do this or we may get another visit from Heather and Dennis telling how great it would be to glow in the dark so we would not need lights to read.

  74. Robert McTaggart

    Adam….if they proposed geothermal drilling now, people would suspect it was really for nuclear waste. It hasn’t mattered what assurances have been made so far.

    The governor has said that actual disposal of nuclear waste would require a vote. So little faith in public consent.

    Drilling to test for nuclear waste storage would benefit geothermal drilling, and drilling for geothermal energy would benefit nuclear waste storage.

    At least now I am the “good doctor” ;^).

    What if it is more expensive to build the wind turbines where the wires are? If the wind isn’t strong enough for long enough, they will have to overbuild capacity (assuming they can also upgrade the existing wires). Who pays for the difference?

  75. It all comes down to trust. The good people of Spink County have shown they do not trust you briefcase guys. You even bring in the governor and he gets his fanny smacked. As far as a vote goes, they showed what the vote would be statewide in a accurate kind of poll that was taken at county level. The majority does not want that glowing personality that comes with the territory of allowing anything nuke to even begin.

    I think that wind power and solar as well as all other renewable power should maybe considered as national security. It is clear that the Russians have now hacked two states (Arizona and Illinois) voting information to glean it for their own purposes as they did with political parties and news organizations. As they are doing that, how long before they go for our antiquated grid? Avon and other locales could have the power like we had before the REA sent the wires out. In other words, maybe regional power sources would be the best way forward to work a new grid that would make sure that each area had adequate power in which to do business and for peace of mind. Germany, as an example, could have been defeated much sooner in World War Deuce if the allies would have bombed their sources of power to shut the society down. Without power, we simply stand in place and look at one another. Next time the power goes out, look around, you see the same bewildered look on people’s face. A whole new grid does not necessarily have to be built to satisfy renewable production delivery.

  76. I had not realized that the Legislature took away a lot of the local incentive to have wind farms in their backyards as an amendment to SB 131.

  77. As of yesterday, Prevailing Winds has pulled their application for a state permit with the PUC for the 200 megawatt wind farm in Bon Homme and Charles Mix counties.

  78. Robert McTaggart


    I don’t have a problem of making the most of what we have, whether that be the existing transmission lines or the solar/wind/geothermal/hydropower resources that are available. But the availability of those resources, and the magnitude of those resources, do not match up with supply/demand.

    Remember, all renewables combined only make up roughly 10% of the total energy pie today. And that is with the best locations picked out for them.

    Today it is natural gas that is the power source of choice to make up the difference. As that displaces nuclear, more carbon will be emitted as a result. I would rather have more nuclear, implement the designs that work better with renewables in a distributed grid, and reduce carbon.

    If you really want 24-7 renewable power, then you need to collect solar from space. Plenty of room up there. But simply too expensive today.

  79. Thank you Mr. Powers, we are once again regulated by the government that hates government for the pockets of the mighty. Corruption has replaced democracy in the failed state of South Dakota. As they say, if you can beat’em, join them. We then need to demand from our keepers the things that all peasant’s have since serfdom, guarantees of social protection.

  80. BTW, my grandparents had their own wind charger on the place. Underneath it, were rows of 6 volt batteries that stored the power. The stored power was then used on calm days and nights. You hung your clothes out on the line (they lasted longer too) and you did not use power without thinking about what you were gonna use it for. Today, we call that conservation, then they called it life. They greatly appreciated the REA, but they were not unhappy to live without it either. We still have power outages here that make me think of their lives in the not so distant past.

  81. Correct, Jim! The new school funding formula takes away the wind energy boost that local districts got for hosting wind turbines. Now that money goes into the general fund and is shared equally by all school districts.

  82. For the town of Avon to successfully scare away a solid well considered wind project so quickly, like this, every passionate cross eyed mentally challenged person in the area must have been loudly voicing opinion in the gym that day.

    South Dakota likes saying no to renewable energy like Donald Trump likes saying, “you’re fired.”

    If you make your community a better place, you can’t preserve your way of life. To get a raise at work is disrespect for the tradition and herritage of getting paid less before that moment. To build a bridge across a river is disrespect for all the decades that people before us endured the difficulty of not having a bridge there. Think about it, all progress is nothing but a slap in the face to all the people who ever came before us. So, people/business should really just never do anything in South Dakota as its people all seem to have chronic low grade cabin fever.

  83. Nobody wants giant fans blowing around the scent from the Hutterite feedlots. If you lived next to a feedlot would you want a giant fan nearby?

  84. If that “fan” actually harnessed the energy from the wind then yes Ror… I’d want a “fan” nearby. Physics dictates the turbines cannot possible increase the speed of the air movement, and they would give me something to contemplate while trying to ignore the smells of nature.

    Plus, unlike coal, there aren’t any byproducts. Seems like a great idea to me and I would not complain if they wished to put a few up within eyesight of my home.

  85. Robert McTaggart

    There are byproducts….namely broken wind turbines made of composites that they don’t recycle enough. Mechanical parts break down and need maintenance, repair, or replacement.

    Plus carbon is emitted by natural gas when the turbines are not turning. The mining footprint is somewhere else, and the turbines had to be transported from somewhere….I doubt solar power is being used to transport those giant turbines.

  86. mike from iowa

    Solution is simple- vote out cafos. Vote in wind turbines. I must say the turbines let one know immediately which way the wind is blowing and how quickly it can change direction. Have had several lightning storms and have yet to see a single damaged turbine-although I don’t look at everyone, everyday.

    Too soon to get a general consensus on whether farmers have been inconvenienced enough to grouse about the mess.

    As for byproducts- the trucks needed to haul various parts are hell on pavement and county gravel roads. They block both lanes crossing bridges and intersections have to be widened out on gravel roads to allow the trucks to make turns. The intersections are re-stored to pre-turbine condition and around here, they look solid.

  87. Robert McTaggart

    Yeah, nothing to worry about with wind turbines…

  88. The big project by Belle Fourche got canned some years back. We here are not smart enough to figure out that Powder River coal trumps logic, but just smart enough to kick the nukes in the behind. So we have that going for us, which is a good thing.

  89. Robert McTaggart

    Leave trump out of anything dealing with logic…

  90. Robert I don’t disagree that nuclear is a good solution for part of our needs, but your points against wind energy seem somewhat off the mark.

    “There are byproducts….namely broken wind turbines made of composites that they don’t recycle enough.”

    Fine, I’ll concede that every form of energy has some level of byproducts, but when compared to other forms, wind energy is significantly less (almost non-existent when compared to other forms of energy production). Do they recycle 100% of the coal ash? Do they have a solution for the nuclear waste? Do they recycle the reactor core and all of the materials used to make the nuclear plant when it has reached the end of life? Come on – that is a weak argument. Even the cooling towers just get imploded and end up in a landfill somewhere.

    “Mechanical parts break down and need maintenance, repair, or replacement.”

    This is the same scenario as ANY form of energy. If we could build a power plant and walk away without any maintenance it would be great, but unrealistic. Even nuclear needs a Homer Simpson keeping a close eye on the place and a lot of maintenance. I sincerely doubt wind or solar has maintenance or repair schedules that are anywhere near as strict.

    “the turbines had to be transported from somewhere”

    Yes they do – but we make some of them right here in South Dakota. I’m not an expert, but I don’t think GE has a nuclear reactor production facility within our state… so can we just admit that we would need to import most of the materials needed to construct such a facility?

    You have valid points about needing alternatives such as fossil fuels to offset the demand when the wind isn’t blowing, but nobody is suggesting wind energy is the total solution. It is part of the solution however and a step in the right direction. Nuclear would be another part of that solution if we could hire the marketing team that convinced Americans that their lives would be better off if they owned a Snuggie and drank a six pack of Coke daily, but until public mindset can be altered I doubt we will see new construction of a reactor within our borders.

    And yes Robert, a few wind turbines will fail. Some will start on fire. Others will fall over in a storm or due to structural defect. But you know what…. this is an even sillier argument when you compare it to the destruction caused by fossil fuels. How many massive natural gas explosions have we witnessed? How many coal mines have caved in, how many mountains destroyed by open pit mines? What about the carbon emissions destroying our planet? Then if you talk nuclear, can you really compare the destruction of a few wind turbines against the failures of Fukashima or Chernobyl and their total devastation in those areas?

    At least when a turbine fails the damage is isolated to a small area and it can be cleaned up. For nuclear – the potential damage footprint is exponentially larger. I realize newer designs are vastly improved and the risks are minimal, but if we are going to make such silly arguments against wind power we need to be fair about the comparison.

  91. Robert McTaggart

    I agree, all energy forms produce some type of waste, which needs to be addressed in a holistic calculation of risks and costs when optimizing the contributions from each source (costs, carbon, delivery of power to meet demand). Nuclear wastes do not have to be isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. Solutions exist to cut that down significantly, but politics and economics inhibit them from being acted upon.

    Chernobyl was a test mandated by a communist party wannabe that was ill-planned…and worse the reactor did not have the inherent safety features that reactors moderated by water enjoy.

    Fukushima’s issues were two-fold. First due to NIMBY they built 6 reactors in the same area, since there was nowhere else to put them, and this was right on the coast. Second, the business culture was one of cost-cutting, not safety-first. That led to the wash-out of all of the backup systems like diesel generators. That also meant they didn’t have enough staff to deal with a multi-reactor failure.

    The reactors survived the earthquake, but not the flooding. Once again, remove the water, and you remove the safety that a water moderator provides.

    Unfortunately, too few want to work together with nuclear to solve the carbon problem, which I don’t think can be solved without nuclear.

    Solar and wind can help nuclear by providing off-the-grid backup power, and contributing to peak power with energy storage. Nuclear can help solar and wind in providing the energy for recycling and manufacturing without emitting carbon, while supporting baseload needs. Wastes could be reduced all around if more teamwork were allowed to develop.

  92. George W. was big on nucular power. Where does that fit into the big picture, Mr. McTaggart?

    Former Senator Chic Hecht (R-NV) talked about nuclear suppositories, but I don’t believe he wanted them in his state.

  93. Robert McTaggart

    The Bush Administration came up with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that led to a renewed interest in nuclear power, among other things, as part of a national energy policy. Likely the few nuclear plants that are being constructed today would not have been possible without that bill.

    In a perfect world we would have already solved our nuclear waste repository issues and started to replace some of the existing fleet with upgraded versions. But now new nuclear is sort of stuck until the small modular reactors can be built due to politics and the economics of natural gas. So the existing ones have to be maintained and run a little longer to maintain their carbon savings.

    I don’t think I want to know where the nuclear suppositories go…

  94. the “not so good” Doctor:)

    In the late spring of 2001, Vice President Cheney held a series of top secret meetings with the representatives of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco, Shell and BP America for what was later called the Energy Task-force. Their job, ostensibly, was to map out America’s Energy future. with respect to nuclear provisions in the ultimate 2005 act:

    fwiw, Senator Hillary Clinton criticized Senator Barack Obama’s vote for the bill in the 2008 Democratic Primary.[20] wiki

  95. Robert McTaggart

    If nuclear is a necessary part of the future, then that bill attempted to do a couple of things.

    First, you needed to replace the current nuclear workforce, which was getting older and starting to retire. So there is an investment in R&D and student support. Second, there are some monies dedicated to risk insurance, which helps with the financing necessary to build multi-billion dollar reactors.

    DOE has continue to invest in R&D and student research through the Obama administration. Everyone should want technologies that work better and are continually made safer. The development of small modular reactors is one way to reduce the upfront construction costs and reduce/avoid the need for loan guarantees.

    Are not wind and solar getting some serious subsidies as well?

  96. Yeah, subsidize geothermal borehole testing for larger scale power generation, but leave nuclear waste borehole drilling completely out. And if we drill a test hole that’s a winner, use that hole for geothermal power. Don’t waste the money spent on testing by abandoning the location to find another one (like DOE’s dishonest [in my opinion] claims about the current borehole project). Just give me a deep borehole project I can believe in – for crying out loud!

    Good or not so good, it’s sort of funny, amongst the wide plethora of all potential knowledge in this world – an expert in one department is often a fool in another. It’s usually not wise to seek Kung Fu advice from a expert in Karate.