The Wild Springs solar project: Pennington County steps into solar panel energy

solar project
solar project(Kate Robinson)
Updated: Jan. 23, 2023 at 8:00 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Wild Springs Solar Project has officially broken ground in Pennington County.

This marks the largest solar project in South Dakota to date. The 128 MW Wild Springs Solar project, announced in 2020, marks Western South Dakota’s first step into large-scale solar utility. Ames Construction was selected as the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction partner, which is expected to create 250 jobs during peak construction.

Following the agreement between Basin Electric Power Company and National Grid Renewables, the project will be in the Southwest Power Pool and is set to change the presence of solar in the state.

“The reason for going forward with this project and buying the power is due to the long-term power needs of our members and that we’re seeing this growth and we believe in an all of the above energy strategy that includes- coal, natural gas, wind, hydropower, oil, recovered energy, and now soon-to-be solar. What we know for our members is that reliability and affordability are two of the highest priorities for our members,” says Basin Electric’s Communications Supervisor, Lindsey Chumley.

Once completed, Wild Springs is expected to diminish carbon dioxide emissions in the area by 190,00 metric tons and produce $12 million in new tax revenue through its first 20 years of operation.

Money collected, an anticipated $500,000, will be donated by National Grid Renewables to local communities, making life in the long term, a little easier

“Something that we do for all of our large-scale operating projects is our charitable giving and so through local charities, we’re estimating almost a half million dollars in the first 20 years that we will give back, so that’s separate from that tax revenue,” says Joe Ibrahim, Vice President of Construction and Engineering at National Grid Renewables.

The project seeks to better the surrounding communities by making life a little easier in the long term.

“We could not do what we do without really supportive landowners, and supportive communities,” Ibrahim finished.

Predicted to reach completion in 2023, the Wild Springs Solar Project is expected to power nearly 16,000 South Dakotan homes.