MRES, Geronimo Energy to develop solar farm project
Construction work is slated to begin in mid-July on a solar energy project to be located at the Pierre Regional Airport. The project is a joint effort by the City of Pierre, Geronimo Energy of Edina, Minn., and Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), which is headquartered in Sioux Falls.
Geronimo Energy is developing the one-megawatt solar photovoltaic facility, and MRES will be entitled to the output under a power purchase agreement. MRES and Geronimo Energy expect that the project will be operational by the end of October.
“Developing a solar project of this magnitude can get complex quickly just due to the fact of where it is physically sited,” said MRES Director of Federal and Distributed Power Programs Jeff Peters. “Because of the complexity, we needed to partner with someone who has a proven track record in developing solar projects. Not only does Geronimo Energy have that experience, but they also were able to structure the deal in an innovative way to reduce costs to MRES versus more traditional methods.”
MRES staff completed a solar feasibility study in March 2015 and began looking, along with Geronimo Energy, at three potential sites for the project. Geronimo Energy executives visited each of the sites and met with officials from the local utilities to discuss specific sites and ways the communities might be able to support such a project. Following those evaluations, the Pierre site was selected.
“Although the economics showed that the Pierre location was preferred over the other communities researched, this project would not be located there if not for the hard work and ‘can-do’ attitude of the City of Pierre,” Peters said. Geronimo Energy has experience in developing similar projects, including approximately 1,500 MW of wind and solar projects that are either operational or under construction. MRES has existing power purchase agreements with the company for the output of two wind energy facilities in the State of Minnesota.
“Geronimo Energy is pleased to have the opportunity to work with MRES on another renewable energy project,” said Geronimo Energy Chairman Noel P. Rahn. “We look forward to the start of construction this summer, as well as to the project providing an economic boost to the local South Dakota community in the form of tax revenue and jobs.”
The Pierre solar project will be the first renewable energy project for MRES that will be located in South Dakota, as well as its first experience in solar energy.
MRES is a wholesale electric supplier to the City of Pierre along with 59 other communities in the states of the South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. The project will be interconnected to the City of Pierre’s distribution system, but the output of the solar project will be purchased by MRES as part of its wholesale power supply mix.