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South Dakota   South Dakota Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: February 15, 2018

Overview

South Dakota's vast prairie stretches from the lowlands in the east across rolling hills, canyons, and buttes to the state's highest peaks in the Black Hills in the west.1 Modest crude oil and natural gas production is concentrated in western South Dakota, and substantial renewable resources are found statewide.2,3,4 Nine-tenths of the state is covered by crops or pastureland, and high winds that blow unobstructed across South Dakota's prairie provide the state with a significant wind energy resource.5,6 South Dakota's solar resources are greatest in the southwestern part of the state, and geothermal potential is present across much of the state's western two-thirds.7,8 The Missouri River and its many tributaries cut across South Dakota's prairie, providing hydroelectric resources.9 There are several large hydroelectric dams along the Missouri River through the state.10 South Dakota has abundant biomass potential from agricultural and forest waste.11,12 Uranium was found in western South Dakota in the early 1950s. Although currently there is no production of uranium in the state, a uranium in-situ-leach plant project is in development in South Dakota.13,14,15

The industrial sector is South Dakota's leading energy-consuming end-use sector, and agriculture is the state's leading industry.16,17 South Dakota has more livestock than people, and one-third of the state‘s agricultural economy comes from raising beef cattle.18,19 South Dakota is also one of the nation's top 10 corn producers. The state's abundant corn crop is used, in part, to supply South Dakota's ethanol-refining industry.20 The industrial sector includes several manufacturing industries in addition to South Dakota's many farms. Machinery, food products, chemical products, fabricated metal products, and transportation equipment are among the state's leading manufactured items.21 Gold mining on a large scale ceased in 2002 with the closing of the Homestake mine. More than 40 million ounces of gold had been produced from that mine during its 125-year history.22 However, other large-scale energy-intensive mining activities continue in the state, including the extraction of gypsum, copper, and silver.23

Because South Dakota has one of the smallest populations of any state, its total energy consumption is among the lowest in the nation. Nevertheless, with its energy-intensive industries and a climate typified by hot summers, exceptionally cold winters, and periodic droughts, South Dakota is one of the top 10 states in total energy consumption per capita.24,25,26

Petroleum

South Dakota has no significant proved petroleum reserves and no oil refineries.27,28 Although the Williston Basin extends into South Dakota from the north, the oil-rich Bakken Shale does not. Other potentially productive formations are present but are unexplored.29 Petroleum production is concentrated in the northwestern corner of the state, where Harding County produces the bulk of South Dakota's crude oil and natural gas.30 The state's crude oil production is less than 0.05% of the nation's total and has been fairly steady for three decades, ranging between about 1.1 million and 1.8 million barrels per year. 31,32

South Dakota is crossed by one major crude oil pipeline, and others are in development. Several petroleum product pipelines enter South Dakota from neighboring states, bringing refined products to South Dakota consumers.33,34 The transportation sector accounts for almost four-fifths of the petroleum consumed in South Dakota, primarily as motor gasoline and diesel fuel.35,36 Statewide use of conventional gasoline without ethanol is allowed.37 However, there are almost 80 fueling stations in South Dakota that sell E85, a motor gasoline blend that is 85% ethanol.38 The industrial sector uses most of the rest of the petroleum consumed in the state. Nearly one-fifth of South Dakota's households use some sort of petroleum product for heating, usually propane, and the residential sector accounts for about 5% of the state's petroleum consumption.39,40

Natural gas

South Dakota does not have appreciable proved natural gas reserves, and like crude oil, natural gas production in the state is modest.41,42 Although gross withdrawals of natural gas in South Dakota experienced a steady increase between 1980 and 2013, production has fallen since then. In 2016, the state accounted for about 0.05% of U.S. natural gas production.43,44 Most of South Dakota's natural gas is produced from wells in the northwestern part of the state.45

South Dakota, with its small population, uses little natural gas, but more natural gas is consumed in the state than is produced there.46,47 A handful of major interstate pipelines bring natural gas into South Dakota.48 Almost all the natural gas that enters the state comes from North Dakota. More than nine-tenths of the natural gas received in South Dakota is shipped on to Minnesota and other states.49 South Dakota does not have any underground natural gas storage facilities.50

Industry, including agriculture, is South Dakota's largest natural gas-consuming sector. The residential sector is the second-largest consumer in the state, but it uses only about one-fourth as much natural gas as the industrial sector.51 Nearly half of South Dakota households use natural gas as their primary fuel for home heating.52

Coal

South Dakota does not have any coal reserves or production and relies on shipments of coal from other states to meet its limited coal demand.53,54 Coal is brought into the state from Wyoming, and almost nine-tenths of that coal is used for electricity generation. The rest of the coal delivered to South Dakota is used at industrial facilities.55,56

Electricity

Hydroelectric power supplies the largest share of South Dakota's net electricity generation.

Hydroelectric power supplies the largest share of electricity generation in South Dakota.57 South Dakota typically generates between two-fifths and half of its electricity from hydroelectric facilities.58 The hydroelectric power produced in South Dakota is marketed and delivered throughout the central and western United States by the Western Area Power Administration.59 Three of the state's 10 largest power plants are hydroelectric facilities on the upper Missouri River that are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.60,61 The northernmost dam in South Dakota is the Oahe Dam. Forming the fourth-largest man-made reservoir in the nation, the Oahe began generating hydroelectric power in 1962. Downstream are the Big Bend Dam, which went into operation in 1964, and the Fort Randall Dam, just north of the Nebraska state line. The Fort Randall Dam first produced power in March 1954. Water released from upstream dams is stored in Lewis and Clark Lake behind a fourth dam that straddles the border between South Dakota and Nebraska. That dam plays an important role in controlling the water flow on the 800 miles of open river between South Dakota and St. Louis, Missouri.62

South Dakota's remaining net electricity generation is supplied almost entirely from wind and coal. Wind power supplies about three-tenths of the state's net generation, a 15-fold increase since 2008. In contrast, coal's contribution has declined from more than half the state's utility-scale net electricity generation in 2008 to one-fifth in 2016. Almost one-tenth of South Dakota's electricity generation is natural gas-fired.63,64

Per capita retail electricity sales in South Dakota are well above the national average. The residential and commercial sectors together account for more than three-fourths of retail electricity sales in the state. Retail sales to the commercial sector are slightly greater than those to the residential sector, where about three out of every ten households use electricity as the primary energy source for home heating.65,66,67

Renewable energy

South Dakota has one of the largest wind resources in the nation.

South Dakota uses its renewable energy resources extensively. Almost three-fourths of the electricity generated in the state is from hydroelectric power and wind energy, with more generation from hydroelectric power than from any other source.68 South Dakota is one of the nation's leading states in wind potential and ranks among the top five states in the nation in the share of its net electricity generation provided by wind.69,70 In 2017, South Dakota had more than 580 wind turbines statewide and almost 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity.71,72

South Dakota has other undeveloped renewable energy resources including geothermal energy and biomass. Geothermal energy has been used in direct heat applications for district heating, geothermal heat pumps, spas, swimming pools, residences, barns, and other buildings.73 South Dakota also has abundant biomass resources from agricultural activities. However, there is no utility-scale electricity generation from geothermal energy or biomass in the state. South Dakota is among the nation's leading producers of both corn and ethanol.74,75,76,77 Fifteen ethanol plants are in operation in South Dakota, and all of them use corn as a feedstock.78 The operating capacity of South Dakota's ethanol plants is about 1 billion gallons per year, but only about 50 million gallons per year are consumed in the state. South Dakota's ethanol plants account for about 7% of the nation's total ethanol production.79 The state has only modest amounts of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation and most of it is distributed (customer-sited, small-scale) generation.80 Moderate solar PV potential exists across most of the state, with the greatest solar potential in the state's southwestern corner.81

South Dakota ranks among the leading ethanol-refining states in the nation, producing about 7% of the nation’s total.

In February 2008, South Dakota's legislature established a voluntary renewable portfolio objective with the goal of obtaining 10% of all retail electricity sales from renewable and recycled energy sources by 2015. In 2009, the policy was amended to allow conserved energy as a component. The legislation applied to all retail providers of electricity in the state. A final report was issued in 2017 and many of the electricity providers in the state met the goal, while other providers noted barriers that limited their ability to do so. Those barriers included lack of transmission capacity for renewable projects, intermittent supply, competition from natural gas, and physical location.82,83 South Dakota has additional regulatory policies, financial incentives, and technical resources to encourage energy efficiency and the expanded use of renewable sources for electricity generation in the state.84

Energy on tribal lands

More than 74,000 Native Americans live in South Dakota.85 Almost one-tenth of the state is held by tribes or individual tribal members, giving South Dakota the fifth-largest amount of acreage in tribal hands in the nation.86 The state is home to nine federally recognized tribes on nine reservations. Two of the reservations straddle the North Dakota-South Dakota border.87,88 The tribes on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River, Rosebud, and Standing Rock reservations are among the largest tribal landholders in the lower 48 states.89

Although South Dakota's tribal lands do not have significant fossil energy resources, they do have substantial renewable energy resources. Four of the top five tribal lands with the greatest wind-powered generation potential in the nation are in South Dakota.90 Several utility-scale wind projects are in development on South Dakota tribal lands. In 2003, South Dakota's Rosebud Sioux Tribe installed a 750-kilowatt wind turbine. It was the first tribal-owned and operated large-scale commercial wind turbine in the Lower 48 states.91 In 2013, South Dakota tribes announced the collaborative development of an interconnected grid of wind farms. The planned facilities could provide up to 2 gigawatts of capacity.92 To expedite development of the wind project, including transmission lines, a Multi-Tribal Power Authority that will allow the tribes to own the transmission and generating facilities has been formed by the Sioux tribes in South Dakota.93 Construction of the wind power project is anticipated to begin in 2019.94 In 2014, the South Dakota Crow Creek Sioux Tribe received a federal grant to begin work on a proposed 100- to 400-megawatt wind farm on 7,000 acres of its tribal land.95

South Dakota tribes have other renewable resources as well. The Sisseton Tribe of northeastern South Dakota is one of five tribes in the nation with the greatest biomass potential on their reservations. The Pine Ridge reservation in southwestern South Dakota has some of the greatest concentrating solar power potential, and the Standing Rock reservation that straddles the North and South Dakota border is one of the five reservations with the greatest utility-scale solar PV potential.96 Distributed generation solar PV projects are being completed on several reservations in South Dakota.97

Tribal leaders in South Dakota are exploring ways to lower their energy costs. South Dakota and neighboring states have abundant hydroelectric resources, much of it generated at federal dams.98 The power generated at those facilities is distributed to electric utilities by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA). The tribes want to lower their energy costs by receiving hydroelectricity directly from the WAPA instead of through third-party utilities.99

Endnotes

1 NETSTATE, South Dakota, The Geography of South Dakota, updated February 25, 2016.
2 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Crude Oil Production, Annual, 2011-16.
3 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual, 2011-16.
4 South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Geological Survey, South Dakota Oil and Gas Well, Test Hole and Permit Locations, accessed January 11, 2018.
5 Farmland Information Center, South Dakota Statistics, accessed January 14, 2018.
6 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, South Dakota Wind Resource Map and Potential Wind Capacity, updated September 24, 2015.
7 Roberts, Billy J., Photovoltaic Solar Resource of the United States, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (September 19, 2012).
8 Roberts, Billy J., Geothermal Resource of the United States, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (October 13, 2009).
9 Geology.com, South Dakota Lakes, Rivers and Water Resources, accessed January 14, 2018.
10 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Lewis and Clark: Big Dam Era, updated July 1, 2015.
11 Rosentrater, Kurt A., Dennis Todey, and Russell Persyn, "Quantifying Total and Sustainable Agricultural Biomass Resources in South Dakota-A Preliminary Assessment," Agricultural Engineering International, Manuscript 1059-1058-1, Volume XI (2009).
12 Walters, Brian F., Forests of South Dakota, 2015, Resource Update FS-82, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2016).
13 Azarga Uranium, Dewey Burdock Uranium Project, accessed January 14, 2018.
14 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Domestic Uranium Production Report 3rd Quarter 2017 (November 2017), Table 4, U.S. uranium in-situ-leach plants by owner, location, capacity, and operating status.
15 U.S. Nuclear regulatory Commission, Dewey Burdock Site, updated April 1, 2016.
16 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C10, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
17 South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development, Value-Added Agriculture, accessed January 14, 2018.
18 U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016 State Agricultural Overview, South Dakota, accessed January 14, 2018.
19 U.S. Census Bureau, QuickFacts, South Dakota, accessed January 14, 2018.
20 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities Nameplate Capacity and Operating Production Ranked by State, Largest to Smallest Capacity as of December 2017.
21 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Data, GDP & Personal Income, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by state, GDP in current dollars, All Industries, South Dakota 2015.
22 "The Homestake Mine Through the Years—From Nuggets to Neutrinos, the Mine Continues to Evolve to Help Science and Society," Benzinga (November 30, 2009).
23 Jones, Shannon, "Top 5 Industries in South Dakota: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?," Newsmax (April 10, 2015).
24 City-Data, South Dakota Climate, accessed January 14, 2018.
25 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Energy Indicators, accessed January 14, 2018.
26 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Consumption and Expenditures, accessed January 14, 2018.
27 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Reserves, accessed January 15, 2018.
28 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Total Number of Operable Refineries, Annual as of January 1, 2017.
29 The Office of Governor Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota Oil & Gas Development/Preparedness Executive Branch Work Groups, Summary of Findings (September 2012), p. 10-11.
30 South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Production and Injection Data, 2016 Oil and Gas Statistics.
31 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual, 2016.
32 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Field Production of Crude Oil, 1981-2016.
33 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Overview, Crude Oil Pipeline and Petroleum Product Pipeline Layers, accessed January 15, 2018.
34 TransCanada, Operations Maps, Oil and Liquids Map, accessed January 15, 2018.
35 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2015.
36 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C2, Energy Consumption Estimates for Major Energy Sources in Physical Units, 2015.
37 Gardner, K. W., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, American Petroleum Institute, updated June 22, 2015.
38 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Locator, South Dakota, Ethanol (85), accessed January 16, 2018.
39 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, South Dakota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
40 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2015.
41 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Reserves, accessed January 16, 2018.
42 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Supply and Distribution, accessed January 16, 2018.
43 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals, 1980-2016.
44 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual, 2011-16.
45 South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Production and Injection Data, 2016 Oil and Gas Statistics.
46 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Total Consumption, 2011-16.
47 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual, 2011-16.
48 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Overview, Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipeline Map Layer, accessed January 16, 2018.
49 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, South Dakota, 2011-16.
50 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, 2011-16.
51 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, South Dakota, Annual, 2011-16.
52 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, South Dakota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
53 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2016 (November 2017), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2016 and 2015.
54 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Reserves, accessed January 16, 2018.
55 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2016 (November 2017), South Dakota Table DS-39, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2016.
56 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2016 (November 2017), Table 26, U.S. Coal Consumption by End Use Sector, Census Division, and State, 2016 and 2015.
57 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B.
58 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017, February 2016), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B.
59 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Hydropower, accessed January 17, 2018.
60 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2016 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only).
61 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Electricity Profile 2015, Tables 2A, 2B.
62 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Great Plains Region, Lewis and Clark: Big Dam Era, updated July 1, 2015.
63 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B, 1.7.B, 1.14.B.
64 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Electricity Profile 2015, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2015.
65 U.S. Census Bureau, State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2017, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (NST-EST2017-01).
66 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 5.4.B.
67 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, South Dakota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
68 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B, 1.7.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B.
69 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, United States—Land-Based and Offshore Annual Average Wind Speed at 100 m (September 19, 2013).
70 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017, December 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.B.
71 American Wind Energy Association, South Dakota Wind Energy, accessed January 18, 2018.
72 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, U.S. Installed and Potential Wind Power Capacity and Generation, Installed and Potential, accessed January 18, 2018.
73 Lund, John W., "South Dakota Geothermal Resources," Geo-Heat Center Bulletin (December 1997), p. 3-5.
74 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.15.B, 1.16.B.
75 Rosentrater, Kurt A., Dennis Todey, and Russell Persyn, "Quantifying Total and Sustainable Agricultural Biomass Resources in South Dakota, A Preliminary Assessment," Agricultural Engineering International, Manuscript 1059-1058-1, accessed January 19, 2018.
76 U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Crop Production 2017 Summary (January 2018), p. 11.
77 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities Nameplate Capacity and Operating Production Ranked by State, updated January 11, 2018.
78 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Operational, updated September 23, 2017.
79 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Profile Data, Environment, accessed January 19, 2018.
80 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.17.B.
81 U.S. EIA, South Dakota State Profile, Solar Resources Map Layer, accessed January 19, 2018.
82 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, South Dakota Renewable, Recycled and Conserved Energy Objective, updated October 28, 2016.
83 South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, South Dakota's Renewable, Recycled and Conserved Energy Objective, Report for Calendar Year 2016 (December 29, 2017).
84 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, South Dakota Programs, accessed January 19, 2018.
85 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, South Dakota, People, Origins, Race and Ethnic Origin, Table B02001 Race, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
86 U.S. Forest Service, Forest Service National Resource Guide to American Indian and Alaska Native Relations, Appendix D: Indian Nations, The American Indian Digest (April 1997), p. D-3.
87 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, "Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs," Federal Register, Vol. 82 No. 10 (January 17, 2017), p. 4915-20.
88 South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations, Nine Tribes in South Dakota, Tribes, accessed January 19, 2018.
89 U.S. Forest Service, Forest Service National Resource Guide to American Indian and Alaska Native Relations, Appendix D: Indian Nations, The American Indian Digest (April 1997), p. D-2.
90 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy, Developing Clean Energy Projects on Tribal Lands, Data and Resources for Tribes, DOE/IE-0015 (April 2013), p. 56.
91 U.S. Department of Energy, Rosebud Sioux Wind Energy Project, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, DOE Grant DE-FC36-99R810676, Final Report, RST Utilities Commission (April 2008), p. ii.
92 Fried, Rona, "Sioux Tribes Collaborate on Biggest US Wind Farm," SustainableBusiness.com News (July 10, 2013).
93 Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Joint Wind Power Development Project on Tribal Lands, accessed January 21, 2018.
94 Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, The Oceti Sakowin Power Project, Milestones, accessed January 21, 2018.
95 Simmons-Ritchie, Daniel, "Crow Creek receives federal grant to launch billion-dollar wind farm," Rapid City Journal (March 18, 2014).
96 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy, Developing Clean Energy Projects on Tribal Lands, Data and Resources for Tribes, DOE/IE-0015 (April 2013), p. 36, 40, 52.
97 GRID Alternatives, Tribal Program, accessed January 22, 2018.
98 U.S. EIA, South Dakota Electricity Profile 2015, Table 2B, Ten largest plants by generation, 2015.
99 LeBeau, Tracey, "Energy Department and South Dakota Tribal Leaders Explore Ways to Lower Energy Costs," U.S. Department of Energy (June 10, 2014).