Rosebud reservation to get new wind turbines

By Kristi Eaton
Rosebud, South Dakota (AP) August 2012

A federal contractor is set to begin installing up to 20 wind turbines on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota to supply power to some of the reservation’s poorest families.

Albuquerque, N.M.-based Sacred Power Corp. is scheduled to break ground on at least 19 1.8-kilowatt wind turbines in the reservation community of Parmelee, said Tamara Stands and Looks Back, a business development consultant for the company. The systems will help provide reliable electricity to some of the community’s poorest elderly residents.

“Most likely, it will probably be the elders that live out in the remote areas – the ones that lose their electricity. A lot of times we’ve found that a lot of the ones that are the last to get electricity back up are the ones living in the country or remote areas,” she said.

Sacred Power has been providing renewable energy technology to the Navajo Nation for more than 10 years, Stands and Looks Back said. This is the company’s first foray into the northern Plains.

“We saw there definitely was a strong need up here with the high energy costs,” she said.

There’s no cost to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe or the residents, she said. Funding for the turbines comes from a $395,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that aims to reduce energy costs in rural areas.

She said the company will train and hire local tribal members to install the wind systems and educate community members about the machines.

Chief John Spotted Tail, a tribal spokesman, said the tribe selected about 20 elderly residents living in Parmelee who own their homes. They were chosen from a list of about 60 individuals.

“There are a lot of people on this reservation right now – their electricity is shut off because they don’t have the money to pay for it, so these generators will keep them on the grid,” he said.