MCCR Windpower FAQ #1How good is South Dakota�s wind resource

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					                       MCCR Windpower FAQ #1:
                  How good is South Dakota’s wind resource?

         This is an excellent question, and,     be Class 3 or lower may in fact be
of course, plays a critical role in the future   significantly better than that. It is clear
development of South Dakota’s wind               that South Dakota has a wind resource
industry. In 1991, the Pacific Northwest         that will be very attractive to windpower
Laboratories (now Pacific Northwest              developers. When this is coupled with
National Laboratories) released a study          South Dakota’s high-quality work force,
descriptively titled “An Assessment of the       public       interest    in      windpower
Available Windy Land Area and Wind               development, and lack of major obstacles
Energy Potential in the Contiguous               to construction (mountains, rivers, etc.),
United States”. This study contained,            one must conclude that the future of the
among other things, a list of the lower 48       windpower industry in South Dakota is
states ranked according to their potential       bright.
to produce electricity from the wind. In                  Unfortunately, when one looks at
terms of wind power potential, this study        the aforementioned NREL map, Miner
ranked South Dakota fourth, behind               County doesn’t seem to compare well; it is
North Dakota, Texas, and Kansas. (You            shown as having among the poorest wind
can access a summary of this study on the        resources in the state, with almost the
American Wind Energy Association’s web           entire county being Class 3. However,
site, at However,          this is not the final word. As was
all of the top five states on this list          discussed previously, measurements taken
(number 5 is Montana) have outstanding           on certain sites have shown that many
wind resources.                                  areas thought to be less favorable for
         Wind      resources      are    often   windpower have actually turned out to be
described according to a system of “wind         quite good. Similar measurements on
power classes” that ranks sites from Class       carefully selected sites in Miner County
1 to Class 7. A Class 1 site has a low           could indicate a similar trend. Also,
average wind speed and a poor wind               somewhat ironically, almost all the
resource, and a Class 7 has a very high          functioning utility-scale turbines in South
average wind speed. Generally, for a site        Dakota are in Miner County. This is
in the U.S. to be considered as a candidate      because Miner County has community
for windpower development, it must have          action organizations like MCCR that have
at least a Class 3 wind resource. The            aggressively promoted windpower as an
National Renewable Energy Laboratory             economic development tool for the
(NREL) in Golden, CO, maintains a map            region. It is clear that strong leadership
of South Dakota that shows the wind              and clear vision are almost as important as
class of any site in the state. This map         strong winds in bringing windpower
shows that almost the entire state has a         development to an area.
Class 3 or higher wind resource, with                     For additional information or
much of our land area ranking as Class 5         resources, or to submit an FAQ, contact
or 6. In addition, recent data collected by      Dr. Michael Ropp, Electrical Engineering
the South Dakota Wind Resource                   Department,        South    Dakota     State
Assessment Network has shown that a              University, Brookings, SD, 57007-2220,
few sites in the state previously thought to