A phallus competes for the skyline with ubiquitous wind turbines on Buffalo Ridge
Utilities are not your friends.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a construction permit last week for the Prevailing Wind project in the southeast part of the state. The application was opposed every step of the way by people concerned about set backs, property values and health impacts. [Wind Projects Becoming More Complicated & Contentious]$100 million spent on subsidizing, manufacturing, transporting, erecting and maintaining this wind farm bat and bird killer would take at least 200,000 Basin Power subscribers off the grid. That's right: primary power purchaser Bismarck, North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative is an oligopoly paying Prevailing Winds, LLC to rip up land and disturb cultural resources sacred to numerous indigenous peoples for a grid that has never been more vulnerable to attack and to climate disruptions.
Last year's Legion Lake Fire in the state park named for a war criminal was caused by Black Hills Energy and Cal Fire has pinned the blame for at least 16 of last year's deadly blazes in Northern California on Pacific Gas and Electric.
South Dakota suffers the highest breast cancer rates in America due in large part to emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants in Montana and Wyoming but the South Dakota Public Utilities Cartel (SDPUC) is staffed by Republicans so they're pushovers for rate increases by companies who bankroll the elections to the posts they hold. Xcel Energy enjoyed a 4 percent rate hike from SDPUC but reduced its request in Colorado. Commissioner Kristie Fiegen herself is circling the drain wracked with cancer caused by Attorney General Marty Jackley's partisanship and conflicts of interest. If South Dakota had a Democratic attorney general he might be compelled to sue Montana and Wyoming for the toxic legacy created by Colstrip, Basin Electric and Black Hills Energy.
No corporate taxes, a compliant regulator and cheap labor make South Dakota the perfect dumping ground for earth killers like coal and industrial wind power. Jackley got campaign cash from NorthWestern Energy last cycle; so did a bunch of other South Dakota Republicans. In 2014, Xcel gave $10,000 to Mike Rounds, $2,500 to John Thune and $4,250 to Kristi Noem. In 2016 Black Hills Corp. gave Thune and Noem wads of cash, too. Basin Electric doled out $270,000 in 2016 alone. Oil and gas found Mike Rounds' zerk, too. Noem received at least $5,500 from electric utilities during the 2018 election cycle.
Ice storms routinely knock out electric power on American Indian reservations often resulting in lost lives and the inevitable cyber attacks on the US will take down the grid for days, even months causing food shortages and mayhem. Microgrid technologies are destined to enhance tribal sovereignty, free communities from electric monopolies and net-metering only gives control back to utilities enabled by moral hazard.
Leaving the grid has never been easier so anyone who can afford to it should do it now and with Donald Trump still in the White House it's never been more urgent.