Geronimo Energy and Basin Electric Power Cooperative have signed off on a PPA for the 128MW Wild Springs Solar Project, located in Pennington County, South Dakota.
The Wild Springs installation, which will be developed about 32.1 km east of Rapid City, is expected to begin operations in 2022. Based on the EPA's greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, the project is estimated to offset carbon dioxide emissions by 190,000 metric tons annually and will be the largest solar project in South Dakota.
The installation will be located in the service area of West River Electric Association, a distribution electric cooperative member of Basin Electric. Basin Electric is a not-for-profit wholesale power provider that serves 141 member cooperative systems across nine US states.
Within South Dakota, Basin Electric transmits its power supply to two generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives, Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative and East River Electric Power Cooperative.
Both Rushmore and East River then transmit the power supply to their respective distribution cooperatives, with Rushmore Electric being the G&T provider to West River Electric. West River Electric and the state's 27 other distribution co-ops then power the homes, farms and businesses within their respective service service areas.
Paul Sukut, CEO and general manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, said: “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. We are excited about adding solar to our already diverse generation mix.”
Rushmore Electric general manager Vic Simmons added: “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. 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."
The Wild Springs installation is expected to bring significant economic benefits to the surrounding community. Current projections for the project's economic benefits total over US$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 education fund will provide approximately US$500,000 in donations to the local school districts connected to the project above and beyond all tax revenue and local spending benefits.
Geronimo is in the process of developing an established renewable-energy portfolio in South Dakota, headlined by the 200MW Crocker Wind Farm in Clark County. Geronimo also successfully developed the operational 1MW Pierre Solar Project back in 2016. The Pierre installation was a joint effort with the City of Pierre and Missouri River Energy Services, located on city property in Hughes County, South Dakota.