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MET tower construction sets Dakota Power Community Wind in motion
By Staff reports

March 04. 2014 10:16AM
The Lincoln County Planning and Zoning Commission has approved the placement of up to 10 meteorological data-gathering towers (MET) in a strategic location to aid Dakota Power Community Wind’s research. With this approval and over 80 landowners ready to dedicate nearly 22,000 acres to one of South Dakota’s largest wind projects, Dakota Power Community Wind is beginning the research phase of the operation.

The 60-meter towers to be used by Dakota Power Community Wind will be installed this spring to gather data to be used in the final design of the wind farm. The MET towers will record wind data continuously in ten-minute intervals using anemometers to measure wind speed and wind vanes to measure wind direction at several different heights above ground level. According to Dakota Power board chairman Paul Shubeck, two to three years of data must be collected before construction of the actual wind turbines can begin.

“The first MET tower has been purchased and will be installed in the next few weeks,” said Shubeck. “This project has taken several steps forward recently as many components from research to transmission start coming together.”

Dakota Power Community Wind, based in southern Lincoln County and led by a group of local landowners, is planning a wind farm of up to 1,000 megawatts supplying power to the Rock Island Clean Line, a 500-mile direct current line designed to transfer up to 3,500 megawatts of electricity generated in the tri-state area directly to metropolitan Chicago and eastern states by 2017.

Clean Line Energy Partners, developers of the Rock Island project, took a major step recently, awarding an $18 million contract to Sabre Tubular Structures, a Sioux City company, to build steel support structures for electrical transmission lines to carry the power east. The Clean Line will begin in O’Brien County, Iowa, which is close to South Dakota’s Lincoln County, where preliminary data shows a favorable wind pattern for a major wind farm.

Stage one of the project has been reached with the commitment of the 22,000 acres of farmland currently signed up for the project, sufficient to support a 300-megawatt windfarm. Company officials say that a 300 megawatt operation would still be the largest single windfarm in South Dakota and would add nearly 50% to the state’s wind production. Dakota Power Community Wind will begin speaking directly to specific landowners in townships to create the most efficient wind farm footprint.

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