Renewable Energy Now Powers the Nature Conservancy’s Whitney Preserve

Sunset over a building with solar panels on the roof.
Solar Power The sun sets over Bev's Bunkhouse at Whitney Preserve, which is now equipped with solar panels. © Katelyn Weisbrod

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The Nature Conservancy’s Whitney Preserve near Hot Springs, South Dakota is officially solar powered!

Recently, 48 solar panels were installed on the roof of Bev’s Bunkhouse, a multi-purpose building at TNC’s Whitney Preserve. The panels can produce 25,993 kilowatt hours of electricity annually to power the facility, which contains offices and storage space for TNC staff operations, meeting space for visiting researchers, groups and volunteers and housing for guests.   

The solar panels are expected to generate enough power on average to meet the annual electricity needs of the facility after energy conservation efforts like better building insulation. TNC also plans to add a battery bank to store excess power generated during the day for use at night and other times when the panels are not generating enough power. 

“This is an important addition to Whitney because it furthers our goals to becoming more energy efficient and reduces our carbon footprint,” said Lane Ketterman, TNC’s Southern Black Hills Conservation Manager. “I hope it is a building block for not only the preserve, but for TNC and our local community. Our preserve is frequented by the public and our solar array has already piqued visitors’ interests.” 

Red Cloud Renewable, a non-profit based on the Pine Ridge Reservation, worked as a critical consultant during the initial stages of the project and GenPro Energy Solutions installed the panels. A donor who wants to remain anonymous is paying for the project and 30% of the cost will be reimbursed thanks to a federal Investment Tax Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act.  

“This is what TNC needs to do to ‘walk the talk’ and address our organization’s own climate impact,” said Marya McIntosh, Conservation Program Manager for TNC in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “We hope this project brings visibility to clean energy solutions like solar and is inspiring to staff, members, donors and the communities surrounding our preserves.” 

This installation will contribute to a wider effort within TNC’s Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota Chapter. Across operations in the tristate region, TNC is working to reduce carbon emissions in three areas: utilities, business travel and meetings and events.  

The Whitney installation has served as a learning experience for TNC staff as they prepare to install solar panels at TNC offices in Clear Lake, South Dakota and near Leola, South Dakota.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.