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South Dakota’s Solar Power Could Go Dark

Advocates for renewables fear a South Dakota’s power company’s attempts to get consumers who use green energy sources to “bid their fair share” would result in the state’s solar energy being darkened. The South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission has approved a proposed tariff that would force households and companies with their renewable energy systems to pay Black Hills Energy for the energy they produce.

Keloland Investigates looked at the possible impact of this divisive plan on the state’s solar energy future. On Cycle Farm in Spearfish, Jeremy Smith grows vegetables. When he bought the company, there was a wind turbine on the property, and he also installed solar panels on the greenhouse.

Smith paid $8,000 for the solar panels, and he claims it will take time for him to recoup his investment in energy savings. Cycle Farm’s Jeremy Smith said, “We’re trying to be deliberate about the actions we’re taking and the effect on the broader community and the planet as a whole. The power that we don’t use goes into power our neighbors.”

Smith refers to Black Hills Energy’s proposed “buy everything, sell all” tariff, which ensures that any potential solar or wind power customers must pay for 100% of their electricity, including what they generate from their systems, plus a $10 monthly meter fee. For excess solar and wind energy generation used on the grid, Black Hills Energy will reimburse them at a much cheaper rate of 2 cents per kilowatt.According to Black Hills Energy, the utility must also provide the infrastructure to the grid and make electricity available to those customers even if a customer has their power system.

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