Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is ‘going green’ with Renewable Ready program

RAPID CITY, S.D. — If given the choice, would you choose renewable energy to power your home or building? For Craig Baltzer, Executive Director of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, the decision was simple.

“With a million dollar utility budget every year, we have a pretty sizable carbon footprint, and it just makes sense for out future, the future of our community that we’re involved in helping to generate more alternative power sources,” Baltzer said.

Black Hills Energy came to the  Civic Center with a proposal to join a program that would allow an off-site wind farm, located in Wyoming, to power the entire Civic Center.

This program, called the Renewable Ready program, gives large commercial customers – using 300,000 kilowatt-hours – the opportunity to have up to 100 percent of their energy come from renewables like wind turbines.

Blacks Hills Corp. is currently utilizing a 40 megawatt wind turbine farm near Cheyenne, Wyoming. Sometime next year, there will be additional turbines added with several more megawatts of energy available for consumption.

“The wind farm near Cheyenne, and that is a 40 megawatt wind farm,” said Baltzer. “Twenty [mw] of it which comes to Rapid City. Our use is 1.3 (mw). And we’re a big place. Twenty megawatts come to Rapid City and the Civic Center’s use on an average year is 1.3.”

For consumer companies enrolled in the program, Black Hills Energy can project the demand of energy a building will put on the energy grid, without it being in existence. Such is the case with the new Civic Center arena currently being built.

“We engaged in some fairly specific conversations about what their expectations were, but quite frankly it’s based somewhat on projection for what the energy will be on this new  facility,” says Regional Manager of Business Development for Black Hills Energy, Bret Jones.

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is not 100 percent renewable yet. Communications for Black Hills says the facilities will not be until the end of 2020 when the program begins.


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