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Project Profile: Lookout Solar Park Project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota

The Wild Springs Solar Project is South Dakota's first large-scale solar operation on private...

The view of the Wild Springs Solar Project in South Dakota, a first large -scale solar farm includes approximately 340,000 solar panels and energy storage facility spanning up to 1,499 acres of privately-owned land.

Source: Credit to KEVN, Black Hill Fox, South Dakota

Project Name Lookout Solar Park Project, South Dakota
Location Oglala Lakota and Custer Counties on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
Project Sponsor / Borrower The National Park Service
Program Areas Public-Private Partnerships Project Finance Value Capture
Value Capture Techniques Solar Energy Use, Right-of-Way Use Agreements
Mode Other: Solar Farm on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Lookout Solar Park I, LLC (Lookout Solar) proposes to construct and operate the Lookout Solar Project (Project) on 810-acres, partially located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and partially located on private off-Reservation lands in South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home to almost 47,000 residents across 2.1 million acres, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Upon completion in 2021, the Lookout Solar Park on the Pine Ridge Reservation, will be the biggest solar park in South Dakota. The 140-megawatt project will be located about 80 miles from Rapid City in Oglala Lakota and Custer Counties on land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. It will interconnect to high voltage transmission lines under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Western Area Power administration.

The solar-generating facility will span 840 acres and will contain:

  • 500,000 solar panels
  • An energy storage facility
  • A new collector substation
  • Access roads to solar panels and associated facilities
  • Underground 34.5 kV electrical collector lines connecting the solar panels to the collection substation
  • A maintenance and operation center

The Transmission Line Route will begin at the edge of the project area, at the boundary of Custer County and Oglala Lakota County. It will be placed underground in the county highway along Riverside Road, 148th Avenue, and Cottonwood Cutoff. The project will interconnect to the high voltage transmission grid via the eighteen 34.5 kV transmission line in Custer County.

During construction, the park is expected to employ from 200 to 400 people. Consistent with South Dakota's commitment to growing its renewable energy portfolio, the project will generate electricity in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) regional grid and help SPP operators meet electricity demand in both immediate and surrounding control areas. The project is also expected to benefit the state, community, and local school districts by creating employment opportunities, increasing area business, and generating tax revenue.


$115M payout for:

  • 500,000 solar panels
  • Energy storage facility
  • Access roads
  • Underground electrical collector lines
  • Underground fiber-optic cable
  • Collection substation
  • Operations and maintenance (O&M) facility
  • Parking areas
  • Temporary construction areas

Of the $115M costs, the project will cost $100M and the transmission infrastructure will cost approximately $15 million including interconnection and escalation costs. The Project costs include lease acquisition, permitting, engineering, procurement, and construction of turbines, access roads, an underground electrical collector system, a collection substation, interconnection facilities, and project financing.

Funding Sources Wircon (parent company to Lookout Solar and Wirsol Solar AG)
Project Delivery / Contract Method Design-build-Finance
Private Partner Wircon (parent company to Lookout Solar and Wirsol Solar AG)
Project Advisors / Consultants Wircon (parent company to Lookout Solar and Wirsol Solar AG)
Lenders N/A
Duration / Status The Lookout Solar Project is scheduled for completion in second quarter of 2021. The German developer Wirsol Solar AG is leasing the property from Rapp's family.
Financial Status/Financial Performance

Wircon (parent company to Lookout Solar and Wirsol Solar AG) will invest $115M in Lookout Solar Park for 500,000 solar panels, an energy storage facility, access roads, underground electrical collector lines, an underground fiber-optic cable, collection substation, operations and maintenance facility, and temporary construction areas. Lookout Solar will be responsible for financing all predevelopment, development, and construction activities. While predevelopment activities will be funded using Lookout Solar's internal funds, construction will be financed with internal funds or a combination of internal funds and third-party sources of debt and equity capital.

  • First large-scale solar energy project to be built in South Dakota
  • First solar generation proposal in South Dakota big enough to need a permit from state's Public Utilities Commission
  • First in Indian country to develop a large-scale solar project
  • Lookout Solar model could be potentially replicated in other locations near transmission lines for rural renewable energy projects.
  • Able to hire people living on the land reservation through a Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance.
  • The project would provide significant economic benefits to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Custer County through contractor expenditures in the area, local project purchases of materials and services, and short- and long-term employment opportunities.
  • Create both short-term and long-term positive impacts to the local economy. The project bring employment and economic opportunity to the county including nearly 200 badly needed jobs to Pine Ridge and improve the economy of the reservation
Related Links / Articles

Shani Harmon
(202) 339-8617

Christina Gomer
UGP NEPA Coordinator, Western Area Power Administration
(406) 255-2811

Lookout Solar Park would employ 200 to 400.

The Pine Ridge project/Lookout Solar Park will include 500,000 solar panels in arrays across 250 acres and energy storage facility.

Source: Credit to Tribal Business News

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