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Published May 19, 2009, 08:07 AM

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe announces wind farm project

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has created a new company called Sioux Wind to generate electricity from wind turbines that would be built on or near the tribe’s reservation in central South Dakota. The tribe will own 80 percent of the new company. The other 20 percent will be owned by Dalton Creations of Houston, which will lead the effort to raise $15 million from investors to launch the wind farm.

By: By Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun

PIERRE, S.D. — The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe has created a new company called Sioux Wind to generate electricity from wind turbines that would be built on or near the tribe’s reservation in central South Dakota.

The tribe will own 80 percent of the new company. The other 20 percent will be owned by Dalton Creations of Houston, which will lead the effort to raise $15 million from investors to launch the wind farm.

John Dalton, chief executive officer of Dalton Creations, said he has put up the initial money to start the planning process and to conduct studies. He said he is negotiating with wealthy investors to provide the first $15 million for the project.

The number of turbines will depend on several factors, including how much access the project gains to transmission lines, Dalton said. The project will seek to hook onto the transmission lines from the hydropower unit at Big Bend Dam next to Fort Thompson, the tribe’s headquarters.

“We’re hoping it’s at least a $100 million project. It may be either less or greater than that once we establish several things,” Dalton said in a telephone interview.

The turbines would provide income for the tribe, and another part of the project would build smaller wind turbines, solar panels and other alternative heating units for tribal members, Dalton said.

“We’re obviously excited about the project, but we’re cautious,” Dalton said.

Political and financial details must be worked out before the project can succeed, Dalton said. If all goes as planned, manufacturing could begin on the reservation by the end of the year and turbines and other equipment could be installed starting next year, he said.

The Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Council has appointed three tribal members to the board of directors for Sioux Wind, with Duane St. John serving as board chairman, the tribe said. Investors have two board members, and Dalton will serve as the corporation’s chief executive officer.

Dalton said Joost Oosterling of Home Energy, an alternative energy company based in the Netherlands, has talked with project officials about supplying wind turbines and other energy products.

The small turbines for homes would feature solar panels mounted on the same towers, Dalton said. Oosterling also has patented a home heating unit that uses pellets made from grass, he said.

A small wind turbine manufacturing plant on the Crow Creek reservation would provide jobs for tribal members while supplying products for other tribes.

Buffalo County, which encompasses the Crow Creek reservation, has been listed by the U.S. Census Bureau as one of the poorest counties in the nation. It had a 23 percent unemployment rate in March, according to the South Dakota Department of Labor.

“A new day is dawning on the Crow Creek reservation,” said Christine Obago, a director of Sioux Wind. “We are launching the largest and most well-financed tribally owned wind energy company in the United States.”

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