Rosebud Sioux Tribe - 1999 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Location: Rosebud, SD
Project Title: Rosebud Sioux Tribe Wind Energy Project
Type of Application: Development
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC48-99R810676
Project Amounts:
DOE: $508,750
Awardee: $660,804
Total: $1,169,554
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 1999
End: August 2004


The Rosebud Sioux Tribe located in South Dakota through the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Utility Commission is installing a 750-kw NEG Micon wind turbine adjacent to their casino and motel complex at the south end of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. The turbine is expected to supply an annual average of 80% of the electrical energy needs of the complex. Realizing that the turbine will at times generate more energy than can be utilized by the casino/motel, the tribe is negotiating a power purchase arrangement with the regional electric cooperative to buy the excess energy. As of early CY2002, the tribe was on the verge of signing a loan agreement with the Rural Utility Service of the US Department of Agriculture to provide approximately $566,000 toward the purchase of the turbine and installation expenses. The owner of the project will be the Rosebud Tribe and the interconnection will be to the Rosebud Casino and through the Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative (an REC) to Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative, and Basin Electric Power Cooperative, interconnected to the Western Area Power Administration grid system. The tribe plans to purchase the existing transformer and interconnection equipment owned by Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative.

Development services to the tribe are provided by Distributed Generation Systems, Inc. (Disgen), Evergreen, Colorado, in partnership with the Rosebud Utility Commission and the Tribal Council. The extended development process is precedent-setting in that the tribe is working out novel institutional arrangements among all parties interconnected in the regional electric power delivery system. The lessons learned will provide a trail for other tribes in the region to develop wind energy projects to serve both on-reservation needs and access to other green power markets.

Part of the purchase contract with NEG Micon includes a two-year warranty for parts and labor, which includes operations and maintenance (O&M). The tribe will purchase a three-year extension of the warranty and O&M period for a total of five years coverage. During the initial two-year period, NEG Micon has agreed to provide initial O&M training sessions for tribal members.

The pilot turbine is the "stalking horse" for development of a utility scale wind project through negotiation of interconnection agreements, power purchase contracts, and the sale of "green tag" benefits to off reservation markets. Concurrent with development and operation of the single turbine project, the tribe is initiating a study, including environmental impacts, of the feasibility of developing a 50-100 MW wind farm on the reservation.

Project Description

Photo showing installation of the Rosebud Sioux turbine.

On the afternoon of February 27, 2003, the first utility-scale wind turbine was installed on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. In one of the final steps of the construction process, the three 77-foot blades were attached to the 750 kW NEG MICON turbine, which stands at 190 ft at the hub. The turbine site is located northwest of the Rosebud Casino and Hotel complex, and is interconnected to the grid through the casino.

The Rosebud Sioux reservation covers a land base of 950,000 acres in south-central South Dakota. It is the home of the Sicangu (Burnt Thigh) Lakota, a tribal group of the Western Teton Lakota. There are approximately 22,347 tribal members who live within the original reservation boundaries, an area that covers five counties east to west from the Missouri River to the Badlands, and from the Nebraska border north 60 miles to the White River. This original Reservation consisted of more than 3,000,000 acres. A Supreme Court decision in 1977, Rosebud Sioux Tribe vs. Kneip, reduced the acknowledged boundaries (for state government purposes) to the boundaries of Todd County. Indian trust lands comprise about 65% of Todd County and 35% of Mellette County. Still, it is the sixth largest reservation in the United States.

Environment - Climate - Topography

The Rosebud Sioux reservation area consists of pine-covered canyons, spring-fed streams and semi-arid grasslands. The land is primarily used for cattle and buffalo grazing, with some irrigated and dryland farming. Elevations vary from 2,100 feet in the northeast to 3,250 feet in the southwest. The annual rainfall for the reservation is 17-19 inches or less. There are significant measured and unmeasured wind resources throughout the reservation, capable of supporting smaller off-grid, on-site wind generation as well as large grid commercial development.

All of the reservation areas are part of the Missouri River drainage basin. The Little White River and its tributaries flow north to the White River and then to the Missouri River. Antelope and Keyapaha Creeks along with their tributaries flow southeast to the Niobrara River which also flows to the Missouri.

Population and Economy

It is a widely held perception among the Rosebud Sioux that tribal populations on and off reservation have been historically undercounted. What is not in dispute is the dramatic population boom of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in the last century. While this population growth among those under the age of 18 positively represents the perception that the tribe will not become the "vanishing race" that so many outsiders predicted, it also presents development and economic challenges for the tribe now and in the future.

While growth is obvious, accurate population statistics are more difficult to pin down. For example, the U.S. Census reported that there were 9,696 persons living on the Rosebud Reservation and Trust Lands in 1990. However, the 1989 BIA Population and Labor Force Report indicates that there were 17,128 Indian people living on or adjacent to the Reservation. Nearly ten years later, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Roll of August 31, 1998 indicates that there are 18,995 enrolled members living on or adjacent to the Reservation.

Wind Resource

The wind resource measured on the Rosebud Sioux Tribal reservation over an 18-month period indicates an annual mean wind speed of 17.91 miles per hour wind resource at the Casino project site. There are other areas with potentially higher wind speed and consistency where meteorological data is being collected and analyzed.

Sustainability Plan

The tribe is also developing a plan for sustaining the operation of the project after the period of the DOE grant is completed. This plan includes such factors as: on the job training with NEG Micon technicians in routine system maintenance and operations, funding provisions for system parts replacement, and provisions for assuming management responsibilities to assure the integrity of the renewable energy system. The tribe is working with DOE and Sinte Gleska University to incorporate the concept of sustainability into the required education and training elements of the project. DOE is providing technical assistance from the DOE National Laboratories to instruct tribal members in the techniques and methods involved in maintaining system sustainability.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report (PDF 1.0 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

On the afternoon of February 27, 2003, the first large utility scale 750 kW NEG MICON wind turbine was installed on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 1999 funding opportunity announcement, "Renewable Energy Development Tribal Lands," and started in September 1999.

For additional information, consult one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Tony Rogers
Rosebud Tribal Utility Authority
POB 430
Rosebud, SD 57570
Telephone: (605) 747-4099

Patrick Spears
PO Box 224
Fort Pierre, SD
Telephone: (605) 945-1908