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Thursday, August 21, 2008

And what foreign power will sell us our wind?

One of T. Boone Pickens major arguments in promoting his plan to shift our energy production to natural gas and wind is that it will stop the massive dollars we send to foreign countries for oil. But in our area of South Dakota the two biggest wind farms are owned by foreign corporations who will reap the profits.

Last week, the 120-unit Tatanka Wind Farm went on line. It covers 14,000

acres that straddle the North and South Dakota border just north of Long Lake, S.D. Fifty-nine of the wind generators are in McPherson County, S.D., and sixty-one are in Dickey County, N.D. The $381 million farm will generate 180 megawatts, enough to power 60,000 homes. It is owned by Accione Energy, a Spanish Corporation. It will sell most of its electrical production to the Montana-Dakota power company.

Near Wessington Springs, S.D., a 34-wind turbine unit is under construction.
It will generate 51 megawatts, enough to supply power to 15,000 homes. It covers 6,000 leased acres, and will sell its power through the Western Area Power Administration, which has contracted to sell the power output to the Heartland Consumer Power District.

The Wessington Springs Wind Project is owned by the Australian firm of Babcock and Brown. The company has 75 energy projects in the U.S.

The development of windfarms has become largely a corporate enterprise. Another option for development is offered by Deere and Co. through its finance division. It has a plan that would help individual farmers build one or two wind turbines on their farms with which Deere helps with the financing. The units would be organized in a cooperative with neighboring farmers to provide megawatt production and negotiate transmission and sale of output. Deere promoted the idea as a means for individual farmers to get in on the production of energy as well as food.

However, huge corporations are dominating the building and production of wind-produced electricity at this time. This trend is glossed over in the Pickens plan.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States