BROOKINGS – Ground was broken Tuesday morning for the new Avangrid facility on 32nd Avenue in Brookings. Company officials from Peska Construction of Sioux Falls and Avangrid Renewables of Portland, Oregon, joined local dignitaries to throw dirt in the air for the 30,000-square-foot facility.
Pictured above at the groundbreaking are, from left, Kevin Tetzlaff, First Bank & Trust; Jordan Lardy, Peska Construction; Nikki Fishbaugher, Avangrid Renewables; Curt Roland, Avangrid Renewables; Randy Eide, First Bank & Trust; Gene Peska, Peska Construction; and Al Heuton, BEDC.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Nikki Fishbaugher, supervisor for Avangrid’s Distribution Center North.
Avangrid maintains, services and stores wind turbine parts for its 15 wind farms across the upper Midwest, including seven within 60 miles of Brookings, Fishbaugher said.
The ground-breaking took place in the driveway of the construction site, where dirt work and drainage have been done and part of the foundation has been laid, she said. Drainage mitigation was a big part of the construction.
“We’ll be storing some heavy blades so we have to make sure the dirt can withstand it,” she said.
“Nov. 9 is the date we hope to be moved in and running,” Fishbaugher said.
The Brookings Economic Development Corporation bought the eight acres just north of Millborn Seeds from the City of Brookings in January with the intent to sell it for business development. The price is $65,340 per acre or a total of $522,720, according to an attachment to the Jan. 14 agenda.
Avangrid will lease the property from Peska Construction, which will own and maintain it.
Right now, Avangrid has five employees, all from Brookings County. They might hire more in the future, Fishbaugher said, adding, “We’re waiting until we’re up and running to see what we need.”
Avangrid operates a 10,000-square-foot facility just north of White and quickly outgrew it, she said.
“We’ll triple the size of what we currently do,” project manager Curt Roland said, adding that Avangrid needed more space, but couldn’t build at the White site. They’ve been trying to find a site for the past several years.
“Looked at a bunch of different locations,” Fishbaugher said, including Sioux Falls; Omaha, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; and Minneapolis, but the Interstate-29 corridor was a big draw.
“Financially, it made the most sense,” she said, and it is “really close to seven of our wind farms.”
“Avangrid Renewables has been operating wind energy projects in the Brookings area for over 15 years,” Ira Reiland, manager of logistics and inventory planning for Avangrid Renewables, said in a press release. “We identified Brookings as the best location among six development site options in the neighboring four state area. The Brookings location will serve as our Midwestern service and distribution hub.”
“Glad you guys were able to stick around here in Brookings County,” said Al Heuton, executive director of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation. He’s looking forward to working with them as they continue to grow their presence in South Dakota and the surrounding region. “Good project for Brookings” because it adds value and diversity, he added.
Fishbaugher is looking forward to being in the new facility and having a shorter commute, but not to moving over all those big turbine parts.
“That’s gonna be a challenge,” Fishbaugher said.