Central Electric Cooperative is adding solar power to its generation mix thanks to a 128 megawatt (MW) solar energy project that will be constructed near New Underwood, S.D., and is projected to be operational by 2022.
On Feb. 18, Geronimo Energy, a National Grid company, and Basin Electric Power Cooperative announced the execution of a Power Purchase Agreement for the Wild Springs Solar Project.
Once operational, Wild Springs will be the largest solar project in S.D. It will be located about 20 miles east of Rapid City.
“For the first time in its history, Basin Electric will buy solar generation on a large scale to serve our members. The board’s decision to add solar generation to our resource portfolio is to continue with our all-of-the-above strategy, as well as solar generation becoming a more economic energy source.,” said Paul Sukut, CEO and General Manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.
Basin Electric is a not-for-profit wholesale power provider. In S.D., Basin Electric transmits power supply to two generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives, Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative and East River Electric Power Cooperative.
entral Electric is a member of East River Electric. In 2019, nearly 38 percent of East River’s power supply mix came from wind and hydropower generation. That percent is projected to increase as new renewable sources, including the Wild Springs project, are added to the mix.
“Our cooperative network is always looking to ensure we have a mix of power resources to meet the needs of our membership and renewable energy is an important part of that strategy,” said East River Electric General Manager Tom Boyko. “This project with Geronimo Energy is an important strategic step as we look to the future in continuing our strong history of providing safe, affordable and reliable power.”
|Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer of East River Electric, presents at a press conference on February 18, 2020 at the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre, SD announcing the execution of the solar project.|
The Wild Springs project has been supported by local and state community members and will bring significant economic benefits to the local area. Current estimations for the project’s economic benefits total over $17 million throughout the first 20 years of operation, including positive impacts in new tax revenue, construction jobs, new full-time jobs, and charitable funds through the project’s Education Fund. The Wild Springs Education Fund alone will offer approximately $500,000 in donations to the local school districts connected to the project above and beyond all tax revenue and local spending benefits.
“Historically, there has been a misconception that solar in the northern regions of the United States wasn’t feasible,” stated David Reamer, President for Geronimo Energy. “Both Geronimo and Basin Electric recognized that the addition of solar to its overall generation fleet not only offers customers a clean, economic option for their electricity, but it also diversifies a utility’s portfolio.”
Geronimo’s S.D. operating project portfolio includes the recently completed Crocker Wind Farm, a 200 MW wind project in Clark County. Geronimo also successfully developed the operational Pierre Solar Project, a joint effort with the City of Pierre and Missouri River Energy Services, located in Hughes County.