Crow Creek receives federal grant to launch billion-dollar wind farm

2014-03-18T05:30:00Z 2014-03-18T09:21:04Z Crow Creek receives federal grant to launch billion-dollar wind farmDaniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff Rapid City Journal

Leaders of the Crow Creek Sioux are celebrating following the award of a federal grant they hope will kick-start a billion-dollar wind farm that could become a first among South Dakota reservations.

The Crow Creek tribe, based in central South Dakota, learned Friday that it was chosen as one of 21 tribes across the country to share in $3.2 million worth of grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior for energy and mineral projects.

While the tribe doesn't yet know how much money it will receive, Chairman Brandon Sazue said Monday he is confident it will be enough to set in motion a project that has been discussed on the reservation for years.

"We never hardly hear good news," he said. "This was one of the greatest pieces of news I have heard since being chairman for Crow Creek."

Sazue and other tribal leaders hope that the wind farm will not only provide free electricity to the reservation's 2,000 residents but generate significant profits from the sale of electricity off the reservation.

The proposed wind farm is on 7,000 acres of tribal-owned land about 12 miles north of Fort Thompson, the reservation's biggest town. The tribe estimates the site could produce 100 to 400 megawatts of power, which could power 100,000 to 400,000 homes.

Steven Nagourney, a project adviser and a private investor based in New York, said the most important element of the project would be attracting enough private backers to fund the project.

While the federal grant money would pay for land, wind and ecological studies on the proposed site, he estimated the tribe would need about $800 million to a billion dollars to bring a 400,000 megawatt wind farm to fruition.

However, Nagourney said he was confident the tribe could attract investors, based on the proposed site's close proximity to transmission lines and early studies of its energy potential.

"It's very excellent wind," he said.

If the tribe is able to attract enough private investment, Nagourney estimated construction on the first phase of the project, a 100 megawatt wind farm, could begin in early 2016 and be completed by the end of the year.

If the project is a reality, it could become the second or third tribal-run wind farm in the nation. The Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians has a wind farm in California. In Oklahoma, a wind farm is currently in development on Cherokee land.

The Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota has a single wind turbine, which powers the tribe's casino and hotel complex. By comparison, Crow Creek's proposed 400 megawatt farm would have about 150 to 160 turbines.

Sazue, the tribe's chairman, said there is a degree of irony in the tribe's gambit on wind power.

Sixty years ago, he said, his tribe was forcibly removed from land along the Missouri River to make way for the Big Bend Dam.

"What they didn't know is that they moved us up on land with potential for wind energy," he said. "No one would have realized that until a few years ago. There's gold in the air for us right now."

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. The Hawk
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    The Hawk - March 19, 2014 2:01 pm
    Missed what Boat? This is not a negotiation, it is a grant. We reply to every RFP given out for wind power because we are that far along, RST has one 30Mw wind farm shovel ready, and on 190Mw close to being ready, less class II cultural study and we continue to respond to rfps when issued. So the DOE awarded Crow Creek a single grant out of $3.2 million which will be divided by 21 tribes equals about $152,380.00 each if equally divided, which could help you do a feasibilty study for a 3 Mw turbine. Like I said before, in 2009, we applied for and won a matching grant of 1.5 million from DOE to conduct preconstruction activities and studies for a 200 Mw wind farm. So I don't know what your "big time" tribal people are "negotiating", but if you get at least half of that 3.2 million, you'll do as well as Rosebud in their grant writing and speaking from experience you cannot negotiate a grant, you have to earn it. I think that you need to know what your talking about before you make a statement that makes you look like you missed the boat on the understanding of all of this.
  2. StopProgStop
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    StopProgStop - March 19, 2014 9:11 am
    Us? Did you read the article? Billion? Reading comprehension.
  3. Affiliation
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    Affiliation - March 18, 2014 7:26 pm
    Rosebud tribe previous adm missed the boat on this, as well as current adm & council. It takes 'big time' tribal people who been there on these kind of negotiations.
  4. Posey
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    Posey - March 18, 2014 7:17 pm
    Or when SNAP or WIC or unemployment might go to those, you know? "Those people" that aren't like us.
  5. Magaska
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    Magaska - March 18, 2014 2:22 pm
    Just north of where this wind farm is another wind farm thats been their for years and seems to be doing well. You people need to do your research before you put your foot in your mouth.
  6. Roger Cornelius
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    Roger Cornelius - March 18, 2014 2:20 pm
    Where is outrage accompanied by racist comments when other wind projects are funded?
    Where is outrage when taxpayer is given to big oil when they clearly make enough profit to sustain themselves.
    Where is the outrage when it is reported that NFL and other giants of industry don't pay taxes.
    Where is the outrage about the GOED/EB5 scandal that Rounds and Daugaard are responsible for. You know there are a few million dollars in state grants that were given to Northern Beef Packers that was ripped off. Additionally there is about $60 million investor dollars that is just plain missing.
    Okay, I get it, there is only outrage only when a Native tribe receives equality for the same projects as others.
  7. Magaska
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    Magaska - March 18, 2014 2:19 pm
    Its not the same soverignty as what another country would have. Go back to school!
    Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America. The federal government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations" and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship between the federal, state, and tribal governments. The Constitution and later federal laws grant local sovereignty to tribal nations, but do not grant full sovereignty equivalent to that of foreign nations, hence the term "domestic dependent nations".

  8. Posey
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    Posey - March 18, 2014 1:26 pm
    You should explain that...slowly.
  9. lac
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    lac - March 18, 2014 1:21 pm
    A good 100 billion more should take care of everything.
  10. lac
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    lac - March 18, 2014 1:20 pm
    Great day for the REZ. I hope they get another billion to get more wind stations going.
  11. GL
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    GL - March 18, 2014 12:29 pm
    To all you negative nay-sayers (some of you like farwalker are always there)...your candle doesn't get any brighter if you blow someone else's out...
  12. Bigdeel
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    Bigdeel - March 18, 2014 11:39 am
    The 400,000 MW statement must be a typo. It is 1,000 times more than 400 MW.
  13. Bigdeel
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    Bigdeel - March 18, 2014 11:21 am
    400MW is not the same as 400,000MW.
  14. ChippewaPartners
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    ChippewaPartners - March 18, 2014 10:36 am
    Wind is a bigger boondoggle than Daschle's ethenol was. Bush threw a bone to the Dems and corn appeared everywhere across the Dakota's. Good luck Crow Creek attracting investors. We would love to see results of any wind studies on the reservation. The Hawk above talks some sense. Crow Creek needs more than a nice warm hug from birth to grave from government. Government IS the problem NOT the solution.
  15. do-well
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    do-well - March 18, 2014 9:33 am
    Seems like pretty cheap rent for millions of acres of land, millions of buffalo, mountains of gold, and other incidentals they "gave" up. And, gee whiz, it just might turn out to give them some income if they can manage to survive the corporate sharks that will lurk around every corner of this venture's implementation as they have for the better part of two centuries. (See The Corporation and the Indian.) Have faith, though, the Lakota won the battles and the wars but put too much faith in the written treaties that were to protect their assets for seven generations (which guaranteed them the land we now live on).
  16. The Hawk
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    The Hawk - March 18, 2014 9:10 am
    Okay, lets relax a little.. They got a grant to envision the feasibility of a large wind farm. RST got a matching grant back in '09, of $1,500,000.00 to do all the PRECONSTRUCTION studies to build a 200 mw wind farm, environmental, cultural etc., It takes about 3 million dollars just to do these studies for a wind farm around this size, 200 mw. So do the math. And somebody isn't crunching the numbers correctly when it comes to BUILDING a large wind farm. It cost a little more than 1.6 million dollars to construct a 1 megawatt wind turbine. Now 400,000 mw will cost how much?? Not 800 million thats for sure, think 600 billion.
    The total dollar amount in the grant is 3.2 million dollars and its divided up amoung 21 tribes. I am glad one of our Oceti Sakowin tribes got some of this money, but we got to relax. Getting that money for studies is all fine and good, but if you cant find a buyer for the electricity, well your a stranded wind farm. Rosebud has a shovel ready 30 mw wind farm ready to build but no Power Purchase Agreement, no wind farm. Rosebud is also at the conclusion of all the preconstruction studies of a 190 Mw wind farm, and nothing promising out there when it comes to a PPA. So lottsa of hype so far, but Good Luck Crow Creek, I want you to succeed. What is failed to be seen, is that we get these pennies from the Feds, but we don't get the support from the Feds after the tribes get a project ready to build. That is called TRUST RESPONSIBILITY!!! It should be a mandate from the very top, (hello DC) if tribes hoop dance through all the fed regs to have a wind farm ready to build, then the feds need to buy the power at the market price, whatever that may be.
  17. peppermint1900
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    peppermint1900 - March 18, 2014 8:46 am
    I don't understand why we keep pouring money into the reservations when the Native Americans are a sovereign nation. Doesn't that mean they don't consider themselves part of our nation? If they a sovereign nation then we need to stop spending billions of dollars on them. They need to learn how to help themselves and not depend on our nation's government to do it for them. We have been helping them from day one and look where it has gotten them.
  18. snowflake
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    snowflake - March 18, 2014 8:44 am
    I just hope this grant is audited each step of the way. That's a lot of our money being thrown.
  19. Farwalker
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    Farwalker - March 18, 2014 7:09 am
    oh great. another billion dollar boondoggle.
    they are not worth the money.
    they will never save us the billion spent
  20. Buck
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    Buck - March 18, 2014 6:29 am
    "We never hardly hear good news," he said. "This was one of the greatest pieces of news I have heard since being chairman for Crow Creek."

    This IS good news! LOL
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