Will solar farms be South Dakota’s next big thing?

April 15, 2024

PIERRE, S.D.–Despite being home to wide-open spaces and abundant sunshine, South Dakota ranks 47th in the nation for production of solar power and has lagged well behind other states for decades.

Less than a year ago, the only utility-scale solar farm in South Dakota was a 1-megawatt facility near Pierre.

But recent developments have brightened the outlook for future development of medium- and large-scale solar power projects.

Driven by new federal sustainable energy tax credits, a national mandate to move energy production away from coal and a desire by power companies to diversify their sources of energy, the state has seen increased interest in development of new solar farms.

Chris Nelson, a member of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, said he doesn’t expect solar power generation to become as widespread in the state as wind power has over the past decade.

But there is a new buzz about solar, especially with the launch last month of the Wild Springs Solar project east of Rapid City in New Underwood, now the largest solar farm in the state.