Oglala Lakota lands could host 110 MW-AC of solar

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A 110 MW-AC solar project is planned for the Oglala Lakota Nation’s lands in South Dakota. Wirsol, a renewable energy development firm headquartered in Germany, is developing the project through a project entity, Lookout Solar Park 1. Lookout Solar also plans eighteen 34.5-kilovolt single line transmission cables crossing eleven miles in Custer County, South Dakota, and a substation rated to 110 MVA. A regulatory filing anticipates that construction could start by June 2019.

It is unclear how much solar capacity is currently online in South Dakota; to date the largest operational solar project confirmed by pv magazine is only 1 MW, although a 40 MW-AC project is also currently under development on Highway 18 just south of the Black Hills.

Wirsol has pursued solar development on Native American lands at least since 2013, when a representative addressed the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.  Also working in this market is First Solar, with 750 MW of solar commissioned or in development on Native American lands.

In addition, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) plans at least 500 megawatts of new solar over the next ten years, as agreed in a memorandum of understanding with Salt River Project, a municipal utility serving Phoenix.  NTUA has 27.3 megawatts of existing solar, and 27.3 more megawatts under development.

Native American lands have an estimated 61 gigawatts of economic solar potential.