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Prevailing Winds Pulls Wind Farm Application; Iowa Charges Ahead

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].

NREL Wind Potential Map

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.


  1. jerry 2016-08-31

    Congratulations to our neighbor! L’ll Abner’s Dogpatch is alive and well here as South Dakota’s namesake. Why progress when you have the outhouse? Now, what if Daisy Mae is transgender? No problem, as the outhouse is gender neutral.

  2. Don Coyote 2016-08-31

    Crony capitalism at it’s finest. MidAmerica Energy is owned by Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett – #2 richest dude in US). Just more subsidies for billionaires.

  3. mike from iowa 2016-08-31

    Buffett has pledged his billions to charity work through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Good on him if he keeps the dough for future charity work rolling in. George Soros, at one time, had given away at least as much money as his net worth.

  4. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Buffet has pledged his billions to charity and Trump has pledged that he will remove the Estate Tax so that all of his billions go to his kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. rather than some portion going to charity or to the federal government. It is great when billionaires pledge to do away with a tax that might impede their ability to create a perpetual line of aristocratic, narcissistic, pompous, do-nothings.

    Buffet profitted from coal trains and now is investing in clean, renewable energy. Kudos to him. Our loss is Iowa’s gain.

  5. jerry 2016-08-31

    Don, those are you and your corrupted South Dakota party’s people. Warren just is more in the sharing mode than what is accepted by you. EB5, not a problem. Gear-Up, cool beans. Good for Iowa, good for the air we all breathe, and good for Dogpatch, to remain so backward. With progress, we loose our welfare position. We can’t have that teat loss.

  6. Don Coyote 2016-08-31

    @mfi: Oh joy! Rapture! So the taxpayers get to line Warren’s pockets yet again as if the reduction of his tax liability by taking billions in charitable deductions based on the donated stock’s market value and avoiding paying capital gains on the appreciated value of the stock is not enough. Adding insult to injury, the donated stock is never taxed when the charities sell their stock depriving the Treasury and taxpayers of tax revenues. Thanks Warren.

  7. Don Coyote 2016-08-31

    @DarinLarson: “Buffet profitted from coal trains and now is investing in clean, renewable energy. Kudos to him”

    Clean energy like Bakken oil? Buffett’s trains move thousands of barrels of Bakken oil. Oh and look, his oil car leasing company Marmon Group has resisted improving tank car safety, making shipping the highly flammable Bakken oil on trains a risk for every community they pass through.

  8. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Coyote– what part of Donald Trump would do away with the estate tax don’t you understand? There would be no Revenue from the estate tax if Donald Trump has his way and his heirs could also receive a stepped-up basis so there is no tax when they sell it either.

    Buffett is giving away his billions to charity and you’re finding fault? Let me guess proud Trump supporter?

  9. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Coyote so you are against fossil fuels and wind energy? Is there any any energy source that you do approve of? Does it have to be transported mined or drilled by a republican for you to approve of it?

  10. Don Coyote 2016-08-31

    @Darin: What part of Buffet’s estate is taxed if he gives it all away as stock so it won’t be taxed as capital gains? Here’s a hint: $0.00. And as a bonus he also gets to claim as a tax deduction the market value of the stock he gives away.

    And why should Buffett want the estate tax to go away? After all his insurance companies have made billions off of selling life insurance to family business owners, partnerships and family farmers as part of estate planning so when the principal dies the insurance benefits that are paid out are tax free.

    And let’s not forget all those billions Buffett made from purchasing businesses from the families that had to sell their interest in the business in order to pay the estate taxes. Buffett is a ghoul and a vulture feeding on the death of Americans. Thanks Warren.

  11. Don Coyote 2016-08-31

    @DarinLarson: “Coyote so you are against fossil fuels and wind energy? Is there any any energy source that you do approve of?”

    I didn’t say that but thanks for putting words in my mouth. I guess when your argument explodes in your face with claims that Buffet’s favorite color is green because of his investments in renewable energy you are left with nothing but deflections and distortions.

  12. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Coyote- what argument exploded in my face? I was the one who said that Buffet owns coal trains and now he is moving into the green energy area. I also realize he owns oil trains. I am an all energy guy with an emphasis on renewables.

    Do you ever address the substance of a discussion or do you simply look to make partisan attacks?

  13. mike from iowa 2016-08-31

    Poor widdle Warren Buffet is writing the rules in his own favor. Wingnuts, who do not want changes on Wall Street ,are powerless to stop the exploitation. Woe is me. And bad Obama is helping Buffett skirt the rules because Barron’s sez so. Wah,freaking, wah.

  14. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Coyote– you still have not addressed how Buffet giving most of his estate away to charity is some greedy left wing plot but Trump doing away with the estate tax and not being taxed on his capital gains is a selfless act. . . . Still waiting. I’m not going to hold my breath.

  15. jerry 2016-08-31

    All politics are local Don, you of all people should be clear on that. I was speaking of the outlaw bunch here in South Dakota. You know the ones involved in the EB5 as an example, tell me who is that current senator that has the 9 million in the bank to campaign with. How about Thune?

  16. mike from iowa 2016-08-31

    Imagine the damage done if those turbines in the tornado were actual cafos. The stuff would really would have been flying.

  17. mike from iowa 2016-08-31

    Just for fun, Juanita Jean’s-the world’s most dangerous beautyshop- put out the word today asking for enough volunteers to erect the southern wall while Drumpf was in Mexico. If only……..

  18. leslie 2016-08-31

    and u argue about Buffet supporting Hillary.

    Recent research found that just five more years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels will virtually wipe out any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.

    Lingering carbon dioxide already emitted from power generation, transport and agriculture is already likely to raise sea levels by around three feet by the end of the century, and potentially by 70 feet in the centuries to come. Increasing temperatures will shrink the polar ice caps, make large areas of the Middle East and North Africa unbearable to live in and accelerate what’s known as Earth’s “sixth mass extinction” of animal species.

    another minute of republican control is too much

  19. Robert McTaggart 2016-08-31

    This climate change thing sounds important. If only we could generate the electricity the world demands without emitting carbon ;^).

  20. jerry 2016-08-31

    Good news! We can generate the electricity the world needs without those pesky nukes. We have the room and we have bob along with the winds in Iowa to make it all happen.

  21. Robert McTaggart 2016-08-31

    So do it :^). Shut down all the nukes and see how much carbon you emit as a result. And then try to power all the brand-new uses of technology without emitting any more carbon.

    You will either have to burn more coal or natural gas, or start telling people they cannot have modern conveniences like TV, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, computers…even though they are paying to use it on demand. Politically that is not sustainable, so like Germany we will burn more coal or natural gas.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-31

    Interesting how Coyote can use Buffett to distract us from the main point, that South Dakota is falling behind on building wind energy while Iowa is cashing in.

  23. Robert McTaggart 2016-08-31

    Interesting. EIA says that 94% of SD is suitable for wind development. Wind and hydro contribute roughly 3/4 of the electricity we produce. However, we consume about 3 times as much energy via natural gas than we do from other renewables (probably wind for the most part).

  24. Darin Larson 2016-08-31

    Cory, that’s my bad on the digression. I’ll do better next time. :)

  25. jerry 2016-08-31

    Yup, the squirrel always gets the look instead of the mirror. South Dakota has the opportunity to have an industry here that would employ full time people right here with good paying jobs. Instead, we allow Sancho Panza (El Coyote) to carry the water for a Don Quixote type state that lives in denial of its potential. The utility companies are not keen on having to do away with the coal they can get from Powder River country, so we live under their orders as a slave to the master.

  26. Robert McTaggart 2016-08-31


    “One new reactor project creates approximately 3,500 jobs at peak construction.

    A new nuclear energy facility creates 400 to 700 permanent jobs per 1,000 megawatts of electricity generating capacity, compared to 90 jobs for a coal plant, 50 for a wind farm and 50 for a natural gas plant. Each nuclear plant project indirectly creates an equivalent number of jobs in the local community.”

  27. John 2016-08-31

    Of course SD has more wind potential than does Iowa. The difference in wind energy development is the SD legislature and PUC – beholden to the fossil fuel utilities of the past. SD refuses to proactively promote and develop wind energy, as opposed to Iowa & Minnesota, because of its backward allegiance to the past and its socialization of costs and privatization of profits. The old utility business model is dying and will collapse under the emergence of distributed energy where most of us will create our own energy.

  28. Richard Schriever 2016-08-31

    Meanwhile – right here in the Bakken, North Dakota wind farms are sprouting like mushrooms. Working on my third new one this summer.

  29. jerry 2016-08-31

    How big are the turbines Mr. Schriever? I have been seeing some big units come through South Dakota, obviously not staying. The jobs that will move from the Bakken to this, is a stroke of genius for the state. Why send these workers away from the schools and infrastructure built for them? Iowa on one side and North Dakota on the other making progress with what is free energy, wow.

  30. jerry 2016-09-01

    Where was Governor Daugaard on this? He made his presence known for the bored hole in Spink County to use his political capital to help drive it’s need. why not in Avon? As Mr. Powers pointed out in this link, all of South Dakota’s school districts would see a benefit from this farm. It is clear that the only farms Daugaard is interested in are those that benefit his wealthy bro’s who are the driving force in the CAFO operations. Killing this wind farm is not about helping the state’s education he was elected to do but to help line the pockets of his select few with the pollution and stink of confinement farms. Where are the legislators?, looking for another EB5 or some other form of corruption to further stink up the place

  31. Robert McTaggart 2016-09-01

    Jerry, the wind itself is free, but the infrastructure for converting it into electricity or providing natural gas backup is not.

    I note that nuclear has had to revise the plans for future reactors based upon market demands, in particular the small modular reactors. And has done so for safety since Three Mile Island.

    It may be that wind needs to do the same. Perhaps the new turbines won’t produce as much max energy, but the capacity and storage may increase and their designs may be more acceptable (less whoosh whoosh, less flicker, safer for birds, won’t catch on fire, etc.).

    If you cannot site the project, you cannot produce the energy. Jerry, you should be really happy, as this is public consent in action.

  32. jerry 2016-09-01

    Wind and solar make more sense as you can and will be able to generate it yourself without using the public. There are folks who live off grid as I use the electric power to type this little note. They are not only surviving, they are thriving. The power they use is free, the delivery is free as well. They have to outsource the mechanism to bring that power into their homes, but they do not worry about glowing or the other environmental dangers of your nukes. Last I checked, there were no barrels of sunshine that needed to be buried in a deep hole in Spink County. Public consent is always the best way forward, but sometimes it is not clear the public has been fully briefed, like they were in Spink County, to make their voices heard. I would hope that the public would also be allowed to vote on the applications of CAFO bombs in their neighborhoods, that would be real public consent in action.

  33. Robert McTaggart 2016-09-01

    The conversion of the wind or the sunlight into electricity doesn’t just happen. A reasonable home solar system will cost $20K to install, before any storage is considered or on-going maintenance (hail happens now and then).

    I think in general the better approach is to reduce what you pull from the electric grid via things like home solar or better efficiency. Washing/drying or the dishwasher could be delayed until peak solar or peak wind were available. Refrigeration cannot.

    Nobody who works inside a nuclear power plant comes out glowing…

    Each energy source has its own environmental impact. Solar and wind have their environmental impacts, but a lot of those do not occur at the point of electricity generation. Out of sight, out of mind.

  34. jerry 2016-09-01

    Nukes only employ grave diggers here. We have suffered enough with the dust and contamination.

  35. Robert McTaggart 2016-09-01

    Yes, let’s continue to burn coal or burn more natural gas when solar and wind fail, which is what happens when nuclear is avoided. Ironically, fossil fuel burning releases more radioactivity into the environment than nuclear power does. While we are at it, let’s release more carbon at the same time.

  36. Douglas Wiken 2016-09-01

    South Dakota received federal money aimed at increasing energy efficiency and has not spent much or any of it for that purpose. At a minimum, they should produce a book or booklet free to all builders and homeowners explaining the benefits of home energy efficiency. It is already possible to build homes comfortable year around with minimal heating and cooling energy required. Proper site orientation, windows on south instead of N, E, & W can save lots of energy.

    I see many new homes built with large picture windows to the north (often street side) that are curtained nearly year around. This makes no sense.

    I suspect McTaggert can see his job evaporating if SD moves forward on sensible energy and use conservation.

    Before another nuclear plant is built, it might make sense to get main stream dam generators converted to alternators or more efficient systems.

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-03

    Richard, really? The Bakken region is even further from transmission lines and big metro power markets than South Dakota, isn’t it? What’s driving wind development up there?

  38. Richard Schriever 2016-09-03

    jerry – everything I’ve been working on are 105m GE.

    Corey, Near the Bakken, all along the Missouri north of Bismarck are coal burners (sitting right next to their own mines for convenience sake) and it is in the hills surrounding those coal plants that the some of the new farms are going. Remember, Fort Peck (Montana) and Garrison (ND) are also served by a lot of transmission lines. Tying into those as well. The switch yard for two farms (Brady Wind I and II) is SW of Dickinson.

  39. leslie 2016-09-03

    Doc, not so defensive:) but here is an article of lawsuits over radiation exposure at work. I realize that followed a TSUNAMI.

    meanwhile, it appears our grid infrastructure is going to get long needed attention, since the fossil fuel industry, included the Kochs, are in the process of being tarred and feathered for THEIR OBSTRUCTION. obstruction is not a good business model, republicans!

    again, I blame obama

  40. grudznick 2016-09-03

    I see Dr. McTaggart is schooling all of you like he once did me. It is good that a nuclear fellow like Dr. McT is willing to educate all of you, and even me a bit.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-03

    I do see those big lines—thanks for that map, Richard! Those lines appear to be some of the only 1,000-kV lines in the country. Do those little green lines, 345–499 kV, do us any good for wind power? Do they have the capacity to carry wind energy, and do they carry power to any place big enough to provide a market?

    And are those wind farms near the coal mines and plants owned by the coal-burning companies? Is this their way of building capacity to keep themselves in business after fossil fuels run out?

  42. Richard Schriever 2016-09-04

    Not sure about ownership of the ones @ Bismarck (called Oliver I, II and III). We did work earlier this year on one near Glenrock, WY that is actually being built on the reclaimed land of a former coal strip mine – and yes, is owned by the mining company.

  43. Richard Schriever 2016-09-04

    Corey, the entire electrical grid of the US is interconnected. Think of it as a more of a “web”, not so much a point-to-point system.

  44. Robert McTaggart 2016-09-04


    Radiation protection (also called health physics) should be considered a serious undertaking. As I said in the other thread, ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) approaches should be instituted at the workplace.

    Maybe I am somewhat defensive ;^), but I just happen to think that nuclear has a lot to offer if one is really interested in winning the carbon battle.

    Nuclear must adhere to ALARA. But it would costs to solar, wind, and energy storage. Nevertheless, it would also be a good idea. Get the work done, but incorporate into your plans methods that will reduce hazards and environmental impacts.

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