South Dakota reputedly has some of the best wind in the country, and now it boasts a new organization to encourage the development of those wind resources. On January 13, 2009, after months of effort, the South Dakota Wind Energy Association (SDWEA) was established and its first board meeting was held in Pierre.
SDWEA’s mission is to support the development of wind energy as a sustainable economic and environmentally friendly resource for South Dakota and its citizens. The organization will also act as a forum for education, research and reliable information about wind development. It hopes to become known as a source of reliable information for state leaders and citizens on issues related to wind energy.
Jeffrey Nelson, President of the SWDEA Board and general manager of East River Electric Power Cooperative believes that widespread interest to promote wind energy in South Dakota was the driving force behind the association’s creation. “South Dakota has the fourth best wind in the country and many people want to further maximize this potential. We look forward to SDWEA advancing the opportunities for South Dakotans as further wind energy is developed throughout our state,” he said.
SDWEA’s goal for 2009 is to create a blueprint for future wind development in South Dakota, through a series of community meetings. SDWEA believes that development of wind energy is good for farmers and ranchers by providing a much needed source of income; it is good for South Dakota’s economy by potentially offering new jobs and expanding the local tax base; and it is good for the environment because it provides a clean renewable resource to meet growing energy needs. As South Dakota’s wind resource is developed, SDWEA wants to help state leaders maximize the economic benefits of wind on behalf of its citizens. The South Dakota Wind Energy Association plans to be a forum for exchanging ideas about wind development and providing accurate, reliable information for state leaders and citizens on a variety of issues related to wind energy.
Steve Wegman was hired to serve as SWDEA’s first Executive Director. Previously, Wegman worked as an analyst for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. “I am excited about what this association can do to provide a new perspective for advocating the expansion of this great resource for not only the benefit of project developers, but also for South Dakota,” Wegman said.
The SDWEA board is comprised of representatives from each of the primary sponsoring organizations, four directors elected from within the membership and the at-large members. Besides Nelson, new officers on the Board of Directors include: Vice President, Dr. Kevin Kephart, South Dakota State University vice president for research and dean of the graduate school; and Secretary/Treasurer, Toby Crow, Associated Contractors of South Dakota, executive vice president.
SDWEA primary sponsors are the Associated General Contractors of SD, Inc; East River Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.; Missouri River Energy Services; Rural Learning Center; Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative, Inc.; SD Corn Council; SD Electric Utility Companies; SD Farm Bureau; SD Farmers Union and the South Dakota Rural Electric Association.
For those interested in joining SDWEA, contact Steve Wegman at 605-295-1221.
Source: South Dakota Wind Energy Association