A reservation in South Dakota is going but modern, with a huge new project ensuring all of the transmission lines stay underground, incorporating over 37 conditions to be conscientious of threatened species and cultural resources on the land.

"Lookout Solar expects to complete construction of the $100 million facility, built on approximately 810 acres on the Pine Ridge Reservation, by the second quarter of 2021. The proposed project is expected to include up to 500,000 solar panels, an energy storage facility, access roads, underground 34.5 kV electrical collector lines, an underground fiber-optic cable, a collection substation, an operations and maintenance facility and temporary construction areas.
“The one thing that I want to highlight in this particular project is the fact that these folks are placing their transmission line underground. We’ve not seen that anywhere else. Much to their credit, this applicant has chosen the underground option to ensure there’s minimal impact on the viewscape. I certainly appreciate them making that effort,” said PUC Vice Chairman Chris Nelson."

"The lease agreement is the first of its kind for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The company involved with the reservation to build the solar project has agreed to follow 37 conditions during construction related to restoration, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources reporting and other requirements."

The Pine Ridge project, capable of generating up to 110 megawatts of electricity, will have 500,000 solar panels in arrays across 250 acres. "

@indie Very interesting! If you look at the area around Bellingham, there are long alleys of land cleared for high-voltage transmission lines. It's pretty tragic and I wish those areas could be re-wilded. That's not possible at the moment (I mean literally, you could plant saplings and the state would chop 'em down) -- but potentially with decentralized power it could be one day. The industry around Bellingham uses hella power tho (manufacturing), and right now damns on the Columbia are the only way to source that power.

I am curious as to what the load these underground cables can handle is, and the costs/impact of maintenance. But their head is definitely in the right spot.

Yeah, I'm not sure if there's a load "max capacity" limit from moving the power lines underground or not. Will be interesting to follow and see how this turns out.

I dug a little more and found out that this project might be tangential to the Thunder Valley CDC [2] initiatives to create , which I've posted about before. [3] It has a really nice, "designed to be duplicated" model for these kinds of things.




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