Senator John ThuneAs America’s energy demands continue to skyrocket, our dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy leaves our country more vulnerable than ever. Thankfully, much is already being done in South Dakota and across the country to develop and produce alternatives to foreign oil, like ethanol, biodiesel and natural gas.
But there’s another resource with impressive potential that until now has been underutilized and underestimated. It has the potential to meet a considerable share of our nation’s electrical demand. It is a clean and cost-effective source of energy, and it is found in great abundance across the country, particularly in South Dakota.
How can we harness this valuable energy source? The answer could be blowing in the wind.
If developed, wind energy has the potential to generate affordable electricity, jobs and economic growth. For every 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of wind energy, 1700 new construction jobs are created, and enough electricity is generated to supply over 250,000 homes. The best part—we can find a rich supply of this important resource right in our own backyard.
According to Michael C. Robinson, the Deputy Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, South Dakota is capable of producing 566 GW of electrical power from wind, which is the equivalent of 52 percent of the nation’s current electricity demand.
South Dakota could and should be a national leader in producing electricity harnessed through our abundant wind supply, but until now, our state has lacked the necessary infrastructure to fully develop this industry. Compared to neighboring states, South Dakota’s wind energy development is currently lagging. South Dakota produces 44 MW of wind energy, while Minnesota and Iowa produce 895 MW and 936 MW, respectively.
To encourage the development of this important energy source, I’ve introduced the Wind Energy Development Act in the Senate. This legislation would provide tax credits and economic incentives that will encourage the construction and expansion of wind farms in South Dakota and across the country.
If America is going to diversify its energy sources, we need to be serious about our commitment to exploring every possible source of renewable, home-harnessed energy. Wind power is a resource that deserves our attention and increased federal investment. It holds significant promise for South Dakota’s economy and the nation’s energy future.