Rushmore Plaza Civic Center partners with Black Hills Energy to harness wind energy

Sign outside of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - South Dakota is one of the windiest states in the nation, and a local partnership is realizing the potential of wind-generated energy for Rapid City.

The plan is for the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to be powered by 100 percent renewable wind energy, thanks to a wind farm owned by Black Hills Energy.

Moving from coal to wind power is the latest in the Civic Center's green initiatives.

But wind energy wasn't the only renewable source they considered.

"We've actually looked at lots of different green options here at the Civic Center including solar and even our own wind but the amount of dollars in infrastructure required to put those programs in place on an individual basis for our businesses just makes it not feasible, so that Black Hills Energy has taken the steps to give this an opportunity for our entire region versus interestingly solar only provides about half as much as wind does," said Tracy Heitsch, Deputy Director of Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The Civic Center has been working with Black Hills Energy for months and announced Sept. 10 that they are moving forward with their renewable energy program.

They said the Civic Center will be fully powered by wind energy by Fall of 2020.

The wind farm providing this power will be just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming and can generate 40-megawatts of electricity.

"We know it's all about the future, and we're really excited about the future here at the civic center with the new building that we have coming online very soon, obviously one of our major expenditures is utilities in our building, so with nearly half a million square feet, we have to be very cognizant of that expense, and so this gives us an opportunity to not only be cognizant and efficient but also a new source of energy by where we're being very careful about our carbon footprint," Heitsch said.

Besides using wind energy, the Civic Center has an ongoing project to convert their lighting to LED both inside the building and in their surrounding parking lots.

Within the Civic Center, Rushmore Hall has already been converted to LED lights to increase energy efficiency.