Against the backdrop of $4.50-a-gallon gasoline this past summer, concerns over the effect of carbon emissions on the environment and worries about national security with the United States highly dependent on oil from increasingly unfriendly nations leading to sustained chants of "Drill, baby, drill!" by the crowd at the Republican National Convention, governors of states across the country have announced initiatives designed to spur development of renewable energy sources and the infrastructure required to take advantage of that energy.

The latest of these is the announcements by North Dakota Governor John Hoeven of the Upper Midwest Development Initiative, an agreement by the governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin to encourage development of renewable energy sources. Just last week, a Spanish provider of renewable energy announced a new wind farm on the border between North and South Dakota.

Last week Gov. Hoeven and officials from Acciona Energy announced a new wind farm on the border between North and South Dakota. The 180 MW Tatanka Wind Farm, as it is called, is located Dickey County and McIntosh County, N.D., and McPhearson County, S.D. The Tatanka Wind Farm generates enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.

Acconia noted that the 120 wind turbines that make up Tatanka Wind Farm are spread over more than 14,000 acres with cattle grazing and crop cultivation covering the vast majority of the land. The company said that each of the wind turbines occupied only about an acre each. The company also said conditions in the region are ideal for wind power generation and it hopes to increase the amount of energy available from the facility in the future.

Five years ago, North Dakota had less than 0.5 megawatts of wind energy generation. This facility will bring that figure to more than 475 MWs, the governor's office said in a news release.

A week earlier, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota announced the formation of a regional power transmission planning initiative that is expected to promote investment in transmission infrastructure in the region. Over the next 12 months, participants in the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative will come up with a reasonable cost-sharing agreement for transmission infrastructure development and a proposal for an acceptable tariff to subsidize the utilization of renewable energy.

The five states participating in the initiative will coordinate efforts between regulators, transmission companies, utilities and other key stakeholders in the initiative. The states are expected to work closely with the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO). MISO is currently conducting a variety of transmission planning studies which are expected to be completed in 2009.

Governors of all five states praised the effort as a necessary step in facilitating cooperative transmission planning at the regional level.