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Socialism Building Affordable Solar-Powered Apartments in Rapid City

Tennessee capitalists are coming to help Rapid City address its shortage of affordable housing with a six-building, 249-unit apartment complex on the east side of town near Menards. Of course, the real builders are we the taxpayers:

The housing will be available to those earning 60% or less than the average income in the area. The project — one of several around the country by Tennessee-based Elmington Capital Group — will cost about $78 million, according to local company representative Ryan Tobin. About 70% of the money will come from federal, state or local government sources, including incentives for sustainable development.

…The project, located at 1725 Camden Drive in eastern Rapid City, near a shopping area anchored by a Menards store, will feature 200 family units and 49 senior living units distributed across the six three-story buildings. The development is on 27.53 acres.

The site will contain 440 parking spaces, three communal patios, two community spaces, a playground, a dog park and walking trails [Joshua Haiar, “Rapid City Apartments Would Offset All Their Energy Use with Solar Panels,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.09.09].

In addition to helping low-income folks and their dogs enjoy roofs over their heads, we’re getting some good solar bang for our subsidy buck:

In a partnership with RPG Energy Group, 15.5 acres of the development will feature a solar array with 3,600 panels that will produce enough electricity during the daytime and send enough extra energy to the grid to offset 100% of the development’s electricity use. The complex will also have a battery system to store solar energy for peak-use periods.

Rather than supplying and measuring electricity for each individual unit within the complex, the energy company will supply power to the complex as a whole. The bill will be split evenly among residents [Haiar, 2023.09.09].

Obviously this apartment complex will still need some juice from the grid when its dark outside and any onsite batteries run low. But the solar farm included with the complex is an interesting example of how we can significantly reduce the demand new housing may put on local utilities, in this case by taking advantage of free and untapped energy.


  1. jerry 2023-09-12 06:48

    I don’t think Black Hills Corp will allow those solar panels to be built.

  2. Justin Van Ormer 2023-09-12 07:40

    I believe that area is covered by west river electric.

  3. P. Aitch 2023-09-12 08:06

    Start now South Dakota to include electric auto plug in ports. Convenience stores, fast food purveyors, grocery retailers, hospitals, shopping districts etc. are racing to build electric auto recharging stations and this worthy project can’t miss an opportunity to innovate with solar.

  4. Phil 2023-09-12 11:43

    I’m not convinced the government should be building affordable housing in the first place. Based on what I see here locally, the affordable housing projects have all failed to address an important issue: adequate storage. In short order, the surrounding streets, neighborhoods, parking, sidewalks, and bike paths become clogged with an impressive array of boats, rafts, motorcycles, snow machines, kayaks, trailers, jeeps, and etc. Not to mention previously quiet neighborhoods become choked with traffic.

  5. larry kurtz 2023-09-12 12:02

    Mayor Pete was in Chamberlain yesterday to help to airport better serve Indigenous women seeking reproductive care outside the perpetual welfare state of South Dakota.

  6. Jet Johnson 2023-09-12 12:30

    250 units on 27 acres? Isn’t that a bit…low? Seems like that’s only about twice as dense as the average single family home zoned neighborhood in Rapid City.

    Oh well. Whatever. I don’t get what Rapid Citians love so much about the idea of living in a giant suburb but convincing people here to urbanize is a waste of time. How will they continue complaining about gas prices if they don’t have to drive everywhere?

  7. Linda 2023-09-12 19:23

    Just south of that Menards is a very large, fenced lot, full of vacant man camp trailers. These are like mobile homes, but with multiple dwellings in each. There must be at least 200 of these trailers. I was told they were to be used to house the Keystone XL pipeline workers. There was activity in that lot, when the XL pipeline was being debated, but most recently, the trailers are just stored there.

    They are not level, and not hooked up to utilities. They have sat there for several years now. They seem like such a waste of resources. There is a housing shortage in so many places. They are just sitting there. It’s a shame they can’t be used someplace else.

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