$100 Million Solar Park in South Dakota Is Moving Forward

South Dakota News December 12, 2019

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$100 Million Solar Park in South Dakota Is Moving Forward

RAPID CITY, SD. (AP) — A South Dakota agency could vote next month to approve a permit for a historic $100 million solar electricity generation project on a reservation in the southwestern part of the state.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission reviewed a settlement stipulation Tuesday for Lookout Solar Park I LLC’s project, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The three-member commission decided to postpone action on it because they didn’t have much time to review it. The permit application has been under review since last year.

“It’s kind of fun to be historical in South Dakota in a positive way,” Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said at the meeting.

The 110- megawatt project would be the biggest solar park in the state. It’s the first solar generation proposal big enough to need PUC approval. The threshold for a permit is 100 megawatts of maximum output.

If built, the solar park will be on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is about 80 miles from Rapid City. It would have about 500,000 solar panels in arrays across an area of 250 acres.

The German company will lease the land from the Rapp family, for whom the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs holds the land in trust.

Lynn Rapp, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, spoke for the family at the meeting. She said the lease agreement is the first of its kind for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“We are their example lease for other reservations,” Rapp said. “We will be bringing it around to other reservations that have trust land.”

Besides the permit, several more steps are required before the project can be constructed. The project needs a connection with the Western Area Power Administration’s transmission system, which has been requested and is under review.

A buyer for the electricity is also needed, which developers indicated Tuesday.

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