Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Supporting Renewable Energy in South Dakota

daugaardheader DaugaardSupporting Renewable Energy in South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

In the past decade South Dakota has seen tremendous job creation and capital investment in renewable energy. Wind power has led the way by contributing over $2 billion in direct capital investment and directly creating well over 500 new jobs. Those wind power jobs are in operations and maintenance, construction, manufacturing and many support sectors. In addition, wind projects produce lease payments for landowners and increase the tax base for local governments and school districts.

Wind power provides a secure, domestic, and sustainable source of energy for our state and nation. On average, over 25 percent of South Dakota’s power generation comes from wind power. Currently in South Dakota and across the globe wind power is reducing our electricity prices. Wind power works well with our baseload power resources like hydroelectric, coal-fired and natural gas fired power plants. In fact, if you add hydropower generated in South Dakota, we generate over 75 percent of our power from renewables.  Having a diverse energy portfolio like South Dakota’s can help to protect against volatile prices and changing national and global policies.

South Dakota today has over 980 megawatts of wind power capacity that produce enough energy to power over 260,000 homes. Our wide open spaces and high quality wind resource can provide much more wind power for the citizens of our state and for those in the eastern United States that do not have a great wind resource.  Today, South Dakota is ranked number three in the nation for wind energy development potential, but only ranked eighteenth in installed wind power capacity. We have come a long way but we still have the opportunity to improve our rankings by continuing to grow this industry in South Dakota in the years to come.

This past year I supported and signed a bill which provides a new incentive to develop solar power projects by taxing them similarly to how wind projects are taxed. This change makes South Dakota’s tax system much more competitive with neighboring states that have already developed solar projects. Although our state’s solar power potential is small in comparison to our wind power potential, I still believe we have room for solar development. Recently I have been encouraged to learn about several solar power projects being developed now in South Dakota.

South Dakota has an excellent business environment, as shown by numerous national rankings.  Renewable energy development will continue to play a crucial role in creating new jobs and growing our economy. I will continue to promote the expansion of renewable energy, including South Dakota’s excellent wind resource, within our state given its many economic and environmental advantages. It needs to be part of South Dakota’s answer to the nation’s future energy needs. I hope you can join me in support for more renewable energy development in South Dakota.