The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is planning to be powered by wind energy beginning next fall.
The venue is among the first major entities in Rapid City that has been announced as a customer of the wind farm that Black Hills Energy aims to build outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. Civic center directors have said that the complex will be powered solely with energy generated by the $57 million plant.
Executive Director Craig Baltzer said Wednesday that talks about switching to wind power began a little less than one year ago.
"Right away we liked the sound of it. We’re trying to be more green as we go forward," he said, especially with regards to the planned arena expansion.
Baltzer could not say what the civic center's power bill amounts to each month but that it will not be substantially impacted by the switch. He estimated that the center spends approximately $1 million on utilities annually.
"Us and a few other large companies in the area buying in is helping to start this community on renewable energy," he said.
Black Hills Energy officials declined to name the entities that have applied to buy power from the wind farm but said they are in talks with several dozen potential customers. Officially named the Corriedale Wind Energy Project, the plant is expected to generate approximately 40 megawatts of energy that would be split evenly between Wyoming and South Dakota.
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The company began to accept applications several weeks ago. It will initially cater to commercial and governmental clients, according to regional business development manager Bret Jones.
"The product was not designed for residential customers," Jones said Wednesday, adding "it's not that we won’t at some point in time develop a product for that customer segment."
Jones said more than 600 entities in South Dakota and Wyoming are estimated to be eligible for wind power. Commercial clients range from industrial manufacturers to retailers, he said.
Use of wind energy will not require the civic center to construct new or additional power infrastructure, Jones said.
"How their energy is delivered will look exactly the same as it does today," he said.
This story has been updated for clarity.