Press "Enter" to skip to content

PUC Approves Second Solar Power Plant This Year

Public Utilities Commissioner Gary Hanson said some nutbar stuff on election night. He returned to making mostly sensible policy statements last week when he joined a unanimous PUC in approving the 128-megawatt Wild Springs Solar Project just south of New Underwood:

It’s extremely interesting and very exciting to see this type of renewable energy project being developed in South Dakota…. Ten to 20 years ago, solar energy wasn’t considered a viable option for our state because we didn’t have the right climate for it. It’s exciting to see that technology has grown and investors are willing to support a renewable energy that has very few challenges from the standpoint of aesthetics or noise or anything of that nature [Commissioner Gary Hanson, PUC press release, 2020.11.24].

Both Hanson and Commissioner Kristie Fiegen seem to be testing out lines to pit solar against wind:

This is South Dakota’s biggest solar project to date. We at the PUC have had a lot of experience with wind development in the last few years, but in certain regards, solar is different [Commissioner Kristie Fiegen, PUC press release, 2020.11.24].

We should be careful about getting into any debate about whether wind power is better than solar power, because some wise guy will jump in to remind us that wind power technically is solar power (sunshine, temperature differences, air moves!). Besides, wind and solar have more in common than they do in distinction—both replace coal and other dirtier energy sources, so both are net positives for the planet. Thanks to massive price drops over the last ten years—90% for solar, 70% for wind—both offer us the chance to spend less money on energy. The differences we may identify between wind and solar—wind turbines crank out more energy per unit, solar panels are less visible and make less noise…—seem small compared to the great benefits of carbon and cash savings.

Wild Springs Solar is the biggest solar project yet in South Dakota, beating the 110-megawatt Lookout Solar Project that the PUC approved in February. (Lookout’s bounced check finally cleared in July.) Wild Springs will take two years to build and connect.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-11-30

    Hanson is about 25 years late to the truth on renewable energy. His statement is an excuse for his past inaction. South Dakota had an opportunity to lead on wind and solar. Thanks to failed Republican leadership, it pissed away its opportunity. Hanson was pushing coal and nuclear plants then. The man is a generation or two behind modernity.

  2. mike from iowa 2020-11-30

    No sunshine in South Duhkota. All the flaws would show up and people would see the truth of 40 years damage by one party stranglehold on gubmint.

  3. Edwin Arndt 2020-11-30

    Mike, what will it take for you to understand that no
    one party has a stranglehold on government? The
    voters have the option to vote them out every two years.
    I suspect that the stance of the national democratic party
    on a number of social issues (same sex marriage, abortion,
    defund the police, etc.) has made electoral success
    exceedingly difficult for democrats in the upper great plains.

  4. grudznick 2020-11-30

    It might be noted that, as the blog’s resident Scientists, Dr. McT and grudznick point out that you need to solve the storage issue with greenie power.

  5. mike livingston 2020-11-30

    Little judgmental aren’t you Edwin? Who are we to condemn the right of an individual to marry who they love or to terminate an unwanted pregnancy? Defund the police is a terribly poor choice for a label, the intent is to restructure the tactical approach to match the situation.

    None of this word salad has anything to do with the PUC and the culture of cronyism that serves the utility instead of the public. I think if more people learned more about net-metering they would want the option. The program Power Trip is a very informative on the topic of net metering.

  6. mike from iowa 2020-11-30

    We were talking about South Dakota, weren’t we, Mr Arndt?

  7. Edwin Arndt 2020-11-30

    Mike, read my comments again . What I said was that policies of
    the national democratic party do not sell well in South Dakota.
    South Dakota voters have made their wishes known. It won’t hurt
    you to acknowledge reality once in a while. You are certainly
    free to disagree.

  8. cibvet 2020-11-30

    Socialism seems to work well for red state america. Should the blue states ever stop subsidizing the socialized red states, it will a whine heard around the world as they beg other countries for money.

  9. mike from iowa 2020-12-01

    You are certainly
    free to disagree.

    I am and I do disagree. Socialist policies work very well in all states, especially red ones who depend on gubmint handouts like farm subsidies, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, police, firemen, military spending, student loans, grants, disaster relief, covid treatment, etc.

  10. Joe 2020-12-01

    Gruz: It says right in the press release that the power generated will be fed into the distribution grid. The professionals who manage the grid can and will balance the sources of power that feed the grid as needed.

    Your take relates to stand-alone generation … like if this facility was meant to serve only Ellsworth AFB (as an example). Which is not the case.

  11. Jake 2020-12-01

    Joe, so right! Grudz and like seem always to want to deflect your thinking off toward some other bright shiny object to distract your thoughts. He (and other pubs) was good at it even before the Electoral College put Trump in office for 4 yrs. There is a reason that so many Republican presidential candidates have won only because of the electoral college-not the people’s vote. Just compare the Popular Vote of last 4 or 5 elections to the final results. How long before the ‘red states’ wake up? God only knows.

Comments are closed.