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August 16, 2013 06:26 PM

Wind Energy Bustling in SD

Wind energy is expanding just as fast as the turbines can go up. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Energy named South Dakota one of its four "Wind All-Stars."

While much of the power lies in Minnesota, Xcel Energy set up a kiosk at the library in downtown Sioux Falls. Jim Wilcox with Xcel says it shows families the benefits of renewable energy.

"This is a pilot project and so we're looking to see how well it gets used here. We're doing this in Minnesota, as well," Wilcox said.

And southwestern Minnesota is prime ground for wind power. Buffalo Ridge's height and contour channel higher winds and generate more power. 

"So you compare the wind velocity on the Buffalo Ridge of 16 miles per hour to Sioux Falls where the average wind velocity is about 12, those don't sound like a great difference until you cube those numbers and it's about a 45 percent difference in energy," Wilcox said.

According to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, the state already produces 784 megawatts of wind energy.

"And we just announced in the last week another 750 megawatts of wind that we are going to add to our portfolio in the next year-and-a-half," Wilcox said.

Much of that new development will be to our north.

Wilcox says wind energy is the greatest opportunity for renewable energy in the Midwest and on some days it is easy to see why.

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