New Black Hills Energy program offers customers a renewable energy option

Black Hills Energy is building a wind farm in Wyoming to provide a renewable energy source for customers.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Black Hills Energy's new "Renewable Ready" program allows certain customers to decide what percentage of their energy they want to come from a renewable resource.

Solar, hydro, wind are all forms of renewable energy, and the company is ready to harness that power in its subscription-based program.

"Instead of building your own facility, instead of placing either a wind or solar facility on your property, this allows you to buy into a larger scale renewable facility, in this case wind, and basically decide for yourself as a customer, do I want 10 percent, 20 percent, 50 percent or 100 percent of my energy to come from a renewable resource," said Bret Jones, regional manager of Black Hills Energy.

This new program offers larger customers, like the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, an alternative electricity option to power their facilities.

"We will have 100 percent of our energy coming form their Renewable Ready program, their wind farm that they are building in Wyoming," said Tracy Heitsch, deputy director of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The budgeted cost for the wind farm is $57 million and qualifies for government tax credit as a renewable facility.

Although the average resident does not qualify for this program, Black Hills Energy said there may be more renewable options in the future.

In order to qualify for the program, customers must use 300,000 kilowatts a year -- and the average South Dakota resident only uses about 12,000 kilowatts.

"We don't have a product here presently in South Dakota or northeast Wyoming to offer our residential customers, but I think what we'd like to do, and part of the reason we proposed this the way we did was this is a learning process for us as well, and so I would not rule out in the future the possibility that we will create additional programs to meet residential customer demand for renewable energy," Jones said.

Black Hills Energy already has interest from governmental, industrial, and retail customers, but they noticed in South Dakota, even locals are interested in renewable energy.