Largest solar farm in South Dakota to start generating power

Published 8:33 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. — The largest solar farm in South Dakota is gearing up to start producing electricity.

Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for the 9-acre, $2 million solar farm at the Pierre airport, after about two months of construction. It will provide enough power for about 200 households, according to the Capital Journal.

“It’s a stunning project,” Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill said. “It’s shiny. It’s bright. It kind of takes your breath away. And then when you realize what it’s going to do for us for energy in South Dakota, it’s even better.”

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The project is a joint venture involving the city of Pierre, Minneapolis-based Geronimo Energy and Sioux Falls-based Missouri River Energy Services. The solar farm is expected to start generating power by the end of the week.

University of South Dakota researchers will study the facility’s energy output.

“It’s just a demonstration (project) for us,” said Tom Heller, CEO of Missouri River Energy Services. “It’s not large. It’s the first one we’ve done. We just want to see what it will do.”

It is the first utility-scale solar project in the state and could lead to other projects, according to state Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson.

“As utility companies start to look at the economics of solar, and as solar technology improves — the economics is improving — there will become a point when a number of the other utilities will want to do something similar, or perhaps larger-scale projects,” he said.