Public Utilities Commission candidate Henry Red Cloud addresses the District 22 Democratic Campaign Forum Thursday in Huron. PHOTO BY ROGER LARSEN/PLAINSMAN
HURON — With its abundant wind and solar power, South Dakota can be the leader in renewable energy if everyone works together, the Democratic candidate for Public Utilities Commission said Thursday.
“We can make a difference,” Henry Red Cloud said. “I believe that. I know that we can do that.”
A Pine Ridge native whose great-great-grandfather was Chief Red Cloud, one of the last Lakota war chiefs, he returned to South Dakota to build a home after leaving the state earlier for work because there were no jobs on the reservation.
When he saw how expensive it was to run a power line to his rural home, Red Cloud began looking at renewable energy options.
“I stumbled on the fact that natives are embracing renewable energy,” he said. “It’s in our culture, our language, our songs, our dance, our way of life.”
In his address at the District 22 Democratic Campaign Forum, he said older native people were saying that South Dakota needed to get close to the earth again as their ancestors had been.
As he drove to Huron, Red Cloud said he saw how area farmers and ranchers are co-existing with the earth, utilizing the sun and working with the soil and raising crops and livestock.
In 2003, he opened the doors to Lakota Solar Enterprises, employing 13 people.
Three years later, Red Cloud started the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, a manufacturing and training facility that works with 27 of the Great Northern Plains tribes. More than 500 jobs have been created and three small renewable energy businesses are being supported.
If elected to the PUC, he said he wants to work to wean the state from fossil fuels. It would create jobs and businesses and save money for homeowners, he said.
Too many young people are leaving the state after graduating from college to work in better paying jobs, he said. Renewable energy enterprises will keep them here, he said.
Red Cloud said South Dakota needs to have a net metering policy, which would also mean federal tax credits. It is one of only two of the lower 48 states not to have that, he said.
“We’re all aware of climate change,” Red Cloud said. “There’s something happening. So we need to change that, start lessening our carbon footprint.”
Red Cloud said generations of farmers who came before didn’t have the advantage of the machinery in use today.
“They were on the ground, planting seeds by hand,” he said.
But then, like now, families had three main goals in their daily lives – to raise their children and have quality drinking water and food.
“Two of those we’re afraid of,” Red Cloud said. “We’re afraid of the water and we’re afraid of the food. We don’t know where it’s coming from.”
South Dakota must oppose fracking that is going on elsewhere in the country, and also not allow oil pipelines, he said.
“We need to keep South Dakota pristine and stay just the way it has been for hundreds of years,” Red Cloud said. “Because anything that crosses the Missouri River ends up in our kitchen sinks.
“So that’s what I would like to do,” he said. “I would like to be your voice. I would like you to stand with me to make these critical decisions.”
For the complete article see the 10-07-2016 issue.
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