Faith, SD area rancher Patty Kelly has become a local agent and field representative for Prelude WindFarms of Green Bay, WI. Prelude WindFarms recently put the wheels in motion towards building a very substantial sized wind farm project in South Dakota.
Prelude agents travelled to South Dakota 18 times between September of 2008 and January of 2009 researching and gathering information to determine the best locations on which to build. The results of their efforts have netted several prime sites which are going to result in turbine placement. Field agents began to meet with landowners in the Eagle Butte area last fall.
In early 2009, efforts were initiated in Tripp County. After their first meeting with Tripp County landowners in January they recieved over 50,000 acres of land agreements from 89 ranchers. In the past few months they now have gathered over 115,000 acres representing 121 landowners in the Tripp County area and 36,000 acres near Eagle Butte.
Project Manager Scott Conant says, "the response from the landowners and local business owners as well as local political officials has been overwhelmingly positive."
South Dakota is considered the 4th leading wind producing state in the U.S. and by itself could provide about 25 percent of the entire country's electricity needs if all feasible potential Wind Farm sites were developed. According to Conant these facts along with "the abundant supply of reliable, consistent winds in the best range of speeds, the predominance of gentle rolling surface topography, the relative absence of major wind obstructing obstacles, road systems which are in just the right amount of supply to get heavy equipment in and out, and the strong support from the local people is what led us to choose these sites for our wind project."
With credible projects firmly taking hold in Eagle Butte and Tripp, Prelude plans a wind farm development in a third South Dakota location and has chosen the Faith area for this site. Patty Kelly will be involved locally with landowners providing option contracts and discussing the benefits of having a project of this magnitude come to the area. Kelly was contacted by Project Manager Scott Conant in March and informed of Prelude's plans to build a large wind farm. She is delighted in her new role in the project.
"There is no down side to this development, it is a win-win situation in which everyone benefits," says Kelly. She goes on to say, "everything has fallen together at the right time, with stimulus money available, new transmission lines coming soon, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our farmers, ranchers, those who have worked so hard can pay off their debt fot once." Prelude pays landowners $12,000 a year for each wind turbine placed on their land which makes them one of the highest paying wind farm developers in the entire country.
Kelly started out her career as a school teacher for 25 years. Then she spent 10 years as an agent for NorthWestern Mutual out of Rapid City where she specialized in estate planning. She currently ranches cattle, sheep and horses. As a college educated professional who holds a double degree and a depth of experience, Conant states that Patty Kelly is "the perfect person for this position. She is an excellent communicator, has a wealth of knowledge, a deep understanding of the enormous positive financial impact this will have on her community, know the needs and concerns of her community, lives here, works here and would never do anything that would hurt her friends and neighbors."
More good news for the Wind Farm project is the recent announcement by ITC Holdings of Novi, MI that they will building a 3,000 mile tranmission system through the midwest named the 'Green Power Express' with lines and interconnection points in South Dakota. Special Projects Manager for ITC, Joe Dudak, spoke in Burke last week announcing that the first permits they submitted in February to the Federal Energy Regulatory Comission (F.E.R.C.) were granted in April. This enormous transmission system will pave the way for wind farm developers in the entire midwest to ensure access to the grid and enable them to get the electricity to the markets in which it is needed. The portion of the 'Green Power Express' going through South Dakota could be in place within three to five years.
Meetings are scheduled as follows for this week: Thursday, May 21, Brushy School; Friday, May 22, Bison Senior Center; and Saturday, May 23, Lodgepole Community Center. All meetings will be at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Patty Kelly at (605) 788-2261.