South Dakota approves Scout's 200MW project as wind sector booms

A streamlined regulatory process and political support from the state's new governor has helped spur development in a state where it lagged this decade

Scout Clean Energy has obtained regulatory approval for its 200MW Sweetland project in South Dakota, as the state rapidly expands its wind construction and development pipeline through 2021.

The project will employ up to 71 GE 2.82MW turbines and be completed by the end of 2020, making it eligible for the federal production tax credit at 100% value.

Colorado-based Scout is a portfolio company Australia’s Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, a global investment manager specializing in lower carbon and renewable energy. Its institutional investors include p rimarily pension funds and insurance institutions from the US, UK and Australia.

In March, Quinbrook secured an additional $1.6bn in investor commitments mainly to advance development of more than 3.5GW of US solar PV, wind and battery storage capacity. Scout has more than 2GW of wind projects in development.

South Dakota for much of this decade has lagged with wind development with only 1,019MW of capacity installed, far less than its neighbours.

To jump-start activity and lure private investment, it revamped and streamlined project permitting, a process that is now among the fastest nationwide. New Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, is lending political support.

Nebraska and South Dakota: new notches in the US Wind Belt

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On 30 June, South Dakota had 505MW of wind power capacity under construction and 1,678MW in advanced development for a total 2,183MW, more than other equally blustery prairie states Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma in the country’s interior, according to American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) data.

Electric utilities are driving much of the state’s wind sector expansion led by Xcel Energy subsidiary Northern States Power that will own two projects totaling 600MW and buy energy from another 300MW facility. Xcel already has more wind energy on its system than any US utility system with at least 7,300MW. Basin Electric Power has also contracted for 220MW.

Developers also have power off-take deals for projects in the development pipeline including Walmart (300MW), Google (195.4MW) and Cargill (50MW).

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