Biggest solar farm in South Dakota coming to New Underwood

NEW UNDERWOOD, S.D. (KOTA TV) - "It's called the Wild Springs Solar Project and it will be the biggest solar development in South Dakota being able to produce 128 megawatts.

This plant will help house all the new energy.

Dick Johnson is the CEO and general manager of West River Electric.

"Geronimo Energy out of Minneapolis Minnesota is the main developer, but Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative actually purchased the output of the solar farm that they intend to construct near New Underwood South Dakota," said Johnson.

According to Geronimo energy, the 1000 acre farm's infrastructure will cost about 190 million dollars and construction will create about 150 jobs.

Over the next 25 years, the company is planning to pay $15 million in tax revenue, $4.5 million to the state, $3.6 million to the county, $5.25 million to the school district, and $1.5 million to various towns.

This project is also estimated to offset 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually during operations, equivalent to taking more than 42,000 cars off the road every year.

And all this energy is staying within the state.

"Basically Rushmore Electric is the wholesale provider for our power on the western side of the state basically for the cooperatives and so from that this generation will stay locally, that's the thing we like about it," said Johnson. "It will stay in western South Dakota and that's what we're really excited about, it won't go out of here the generation will stay here."

A lot of that renewable energy is going to be stored at a plant in New Underwood. The solar panels are going to be turning with the sun for maximum efficiency, but that's not the only good thing coming to the town with this project.

"Geronimo Energy has an education fund where they put so much for each megawatt that's output into a special fund that then goes to the local school district for them to use," said Johnson.

Once completed, the New Underwood School District could be receiving approximately $25,000 every year for the next 20 years.

There will be a public meeting for people to get more information or voice their concerns on March 3 in New Underwood beginning at 4 p.m.