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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
MEDIA CONTACT: Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

PUC gives approval to state's largest wind farm

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission today approved a permit for the state''s largest wind farm to be built in Brookings and Deuel counties. Iberdrola Renewables received the go-ahead to construct and operate the Buffalo Ridge II wind farm, which will be capable of producing up to 306 megawatts of electricity.

The number of turbines erected will range from 127 to 204, depending upon the type the company selects. The project also includes a substation in Oak Lake Township and a 13-mile 115-kilovolt transmission line. Iberdrola intends to deliver power to customers served by the Midwest Independent System Operator.

All three commissioners, Dusty Johnson, Steve Kolbeck and Gary Hanson, voted to approve the project during the PUC's regular commission meeting April 21 in Pierre. Iberdrola submitted the application to the PUC in October 2008. The process leading up to the commission's decision included a public input hearing in January and a formal hearing last week. Both hearings were held in Brookings.

"Buffalo Ridge II will double the amount of wind energy currently produced in South Dakota," said Dusty Johnson, PUC chairman. "That is significant growth of an industry that produces renewable energy, brings construction and support jobs to our communities, and adds to the counties' tax base."

Iberdrola estimates the entire capital cost of the project at more than $620 million and expects to begin construction this year and operation in December 2010.

"This major project accelerates development of South Dakota's wind resource," remarked Steve Kolbeck, commission vice chairman. "South Dakota's wind is starting to materialize. This is a huge step forward for our environment and our state."

Commissioner Gary Hanson concurred with his colleagues' comments. "This is responsible energy development," he said. "South Dakota's elected officials and wind developers have overcome significant obstacles and handicaps in order to bring this project to fruition."

Buffalo Ridge II will be the sixth major wind energy project in South Dakota. Other projects in operation and their respective power capacities include the South Dakota Wind Energy Center in Hyde County with 40.5 megawatts; MinnDakota Wind Farm in Brookings County, 54 megawatts; Tatanka Wind Farm in McPherson County, 88.5 megawatts; Wessington Springs Wind Project in Jerauld County, 51 megawatts; and Buffalo Ridge I in Brookings County with 50.4 megawatts.

Buffalo Ridge II is Iberdrola Renewables' third wind energy project in South Dakota. The company also operates the MinnDakota and Buffalo Ridge I projects in Brookings County.

To review the PUC's docket in this case, visit the Web site, Select "Commission Actions" at the top of the page, then "Commission Dockets," "Electric Dockets," "2008 Electric Dockets" and "EL08-031."