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October 15, 2008 10:08 PM

Powering South Dakota With Wind

Finding other types of ways to power South Dakota has been on the agenda for many years. Wednesday, the state is taking a step in that direction. The Wessington Springs Wind Farm opened its doors Wednesday and its doors to a cleaner future. 

It was a windy day on the hill as the Wessington Springs Wind Farm opened to the public and prepares to start production. 

Mike McDowell is the General Manager for Heartland and says, "What we are expecting from this plant is the highest capacity output from any plant in South Dakota."

The farm has 34 wind turbines and when they start turning they will produce enough electricity for more than 17,000 homes.  That power will go out to Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota including South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota. It will make the two universities powered 100% by renewable energy. 

While the wind power will help South Dakota become more self-reliant, it will also help keep electric costs down for Heartland customers.  McDowell says, "Long term this will contribute to stability. Wind is one of those fuel sources that doesn't escalate in price. It does vary in it's availability but it never varies in price."

Governor Mike Rounds says, "In the future will we be using lots of different power? Absolutely. Is wind power going to play a part in it? Absolutely as well."

It's one of a few projects in the works for South Dakota and it's cleaner future. 

The Wessington Springs Wind Farm is expected to start production November 30th. Governor Mike Rounds says he and other legislators have also been working with Minnesota to try to get transmission upgrades. The upgrades will allow wind power from South Dakota to be transported to Minnesota and a bigger power market.

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