The U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that Basin Electric Power Cooperative will receive a $204 million loan to build a wind farm in South Dakota. The system will have more than 100 wind turbines and will generate 151.5 megawatts of electricity for 2.8 million customers in nine states. Using the President’s words, Vilsack said the investment will help us “win the future.”
The loan from the USDA Rural Development program covers 60 percent of the total $340 million cost of the wind farm. It provides the financing for the engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning of the project. The other 40 percent of the cost is a mix of public and private investments. PrairieWinds, a subsidiary of Basin Electric, will construct the wind turbines, which will be operated by The Wind Partners, and Basin Electric will then purchase the power through PrairieWinds. More than 135 distribution systems will receive the renewable energy.
Basin Electric developed its first wind project in 2001 in South Dakota and has gone on to build several more across both the Dakotas. In 2009, PrairieWinds built a 120 megawatt wind farm in North Dakota, its largest until now. When the South Dakota wind farm is complete, the company will have more than 700 megawatts of wind power generation.
WHY THIS MATTERS
By harnessing the wind to provide electricity, Basin Electric is reducing its need for fossil fuels, thus helping to mitigate global warming.