Prairie Winds Project Nears Completion at Jerauld County Site
The wind farm being constructed in Jerauld County, which includes seven towers owned by individual investors in South Dakota, is about 85-percent complete, according to project engineer Amanda Wangler of Basin Electric.
“We have 91 turbines structurally complete out of the 108 towers we’re putting up,” Wangler said. “By Christmas we’ll have our substation energized with power ready to flow onto the power grid.”
Wangler says they’ll have all 108 turbines constructed and mostly ready to go by the end of January or the first part of February. They’ll have more work to do on the site come spring, Wangler says.
“Once the ground thaws out we’ll be doing some more work on the site,” Wangler said. “They’ll be putting gravel around the turbines and making everything look nice around the area.”
At the peak of construction about 400 workers were on site helping to put the turbines together, digging trenches and stringing large power cables underground.
“With the underground work we have about 65 or 70 miles of trenches, which includes power cables and fiber optic cable that allows the towers to communicate with each other and our operation and maintenance office building,” Wangler said.
The operation and maintenance building is being constructed on site, and will have one full time engineer on staff, and 10 full time technicians on site to deal with maintenance and other issues.
Just recently, the last General Electric components arrived, so Wangler says they have everything they need to complete the project.
The South Dakota Wind Partners (SDWP), LLC, raised over $16 million from investors in South Dakota to build seven of the turbines included in this project. The electricity generated by the towers will be purchased by Basin Electric and dividends and interest will be paid to the individual investors.
Jim Burg, who chairs the SDWP board of directors said he is grateful to all of the investors that saw the great opportunity in this project.
“We have 611 investors with about a $24,000 or $25,000 average investment totalling over $16 million,” Burg said at the South Dakota Wind Energy Association’s annual meeting. “We wanted as many people as we could get and we think it’s incredible that we raised that much in that short of time.”
South Dakota Wind Partners, LLC, was set up specifically for this project, but Burg says SDWP isn’t going away.
“We didn’t want to dissolve South Dakota Wind Partners at the end of this we want to keep it going in case we can help other projects in the future,” Burg said.
Wangler says they’ve have very few delays and mostly good weather for the project which has helped them stay on schedule. Workers at the construction site will take time off from Christmas through New Year’s Day and will return to work around January 3. SDWP will own seven turbines located in the northeast section of the project in Jerauld County.