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Brookings city government receives update on solar developments

Creative Commons

As solar developments spring up around the state, city governments are trying to keep a tab on what’s happening in their corner of South Dakota. Now it’s Brookings turn to consider a solar project.

Brookings City Council heard an update at their latest meeting on the status of a small solar project on the southwest corner of town from Missouri River Energy Services.

Tim Blodgett is VP of member service and communications at MRES. He said the five-megawatt plant would use 40 acres of the purchased 75-acre plot with a 30-year lifespan. This plot, close to the local landfill, was selected for a few reasons.

“Our siting study as we went through this on the project side, we evaluated locations in the Brookings area that met the following: We desired from a cost perspective to be within a two-mile radius of a distribution substation," Blodgett said. "We wanted a property that was obviously above the 100-year floodplain. Also, we want to be very mindful of the land use and the impacts in regard to future development desires.”

The project would plug into the Brookings 34th Avenue substation by way of an underground cable. Blodgett said they want to keep an eye on the future with this development.

“We wanted some opportunity to expand within that footprint in the future," Blodgett said. "So, we identified the top four locations based on that, we met with landowners as part of that process and basically, we found one of the four was interested and we have purchased the land at this point in time.”

Nick Fanning, MRES senior resource engineer, explained how they arrived at their projections.

“The hard part we have in the power industry is trying to explain or find good analogies for ‘what’s a megawatt," Fanning said. "So, we take the annual production of this solar project – which is roughly 11,000 megawatt hours, and we take a look at the average home in the United States – and we do a little math and come up with, ‘okay, five megawatts, 11,000 megawatt hours will power about 1,100 homes on average’.”

The project is currently in the conceptual design phase with a rough completion date of early 2025. MRES is looking at a “soft” price tag of roughly twenty-million-dollars. No actions were taken by the council following the presentation.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture