This article below has been republished from the U.S. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) website:
The Energy Department on February 21 recognized the East River Electric Power Cooperative of South Dakota and the Golden Valley Electric Association of Alaska as the 2012 Wind Cooperatives of the Year. East River and Golden Valley were selected by a panel of experts from the wind industry, utilities, government, national laboratories, and cooperatives.
East River Electric Power Cooperative of Madison, South Dakota, is a wholesale electric power supply cooperative serving eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota. The cooperative is regarded as one of the earliest champions in installing the first utility-scale wind turbines in the Dakotas. In 2009, the co-op created South Dakota Wind Partners LLC (SDWP), which is a model for community-based, locally-owned wind development that is fully financed by South Dakota residents. In 2010, SDWP proposed a 10.5 megawatt (MW) addition to the 151 MW Prairie Winds SD1 project and worked with East River to convene investor meetings across the state. This approach helped raise $16 million in just 60 days with investments from more than 600 South Dakotans. The 10.5 MW project has been in operation since 2011, and is a community-financing model for clean, domestic wind power that other providers can emulate.
The Golden Valley Electric Association is focused on generating 20% of its peak load electricity—the power supplied when customer demand is highest—from renewable energy by 2014. As part of this commitment, Golden Valley developed the 25-megawatt Eva Creek Wind Farm in Ferry, Alaska, in 2012. The remote site is located at the end of a 10-mile dirt road, contributing to unique construction challenges. The Eva Creek Wind Farm project is expected to help the cooperative meet its renewable goals ahead of schedule, reduce dependence on oil, and save Golden Valley members as much as $4 million in annual electricity costs by the end of 2013. See the Energy Department Progress Alert and the Wind Powering America website.