BISMARCK—A decision on the proposed 87-turbine wind farm in southern Stark County is closer to being made.
The Public Service Commission held a special meeting Friday to discuss the 150-megawatt Brady Wind Energy Center, and add additional evidence and public comment to the record following the 15-hour long public hearing that was held March 30 at Dickinson City Hall. That hearing was the longest on wind energy ever heard by the PSC.
A work session followed the special meeting as the PSC continued discussing the 15-hour meeting so they could move closer to reaching a conclusion as to whether the proposed wind farm is in compliance with laws and regulations.
The public has 10 days to make comment or cross-examine new exhibits admitted to the record Friday. However, all previous exhibits and comments given March 30 are closed for discussion.
The Concerned Citizens of Stark County, a group that opposes the wind farm, had representatives at the work session. Tom Reichert, spokesman for the CCSC, said even though he knew he would not be able to speak on the record, it was important for the group to have a presence there.
"We wanted to make sure they knew we were there," Reichert said. "We just wanted to go down and see and hear it for ourselves."
Reichert said even though it appears that the PSC is favoring passing the wind farm. the group hopes to still make an impact on future wind farm projects. He said the group hopes to "educate the public about any issue that potentially affects or impacts the quality of life."
Bryan Garner, a spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources, which is building the wind farm, said the company is pleased the commission appears to be in support of the project.
As NextEra awaits the PSC's decision, Garner said the company is preparing by setting pieces to begin construction as soon as it is given the green light.
"We're planning behind the scenes," he said.
Reichert said even though it appears a wind farm may soon be a part of the Stark County community, the CCSC is working with other counties on what to do to oppose wind farm projects.
Notably, they are working with Hettinger County residents opposed to the Brady Wind II project, which would be a second phase of Brady Wind I, he said.
The PSC will conduct a public hearing hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, at New England's Memorial Hall. Reichert said he and other representatives from the group will be in attendance.
"We're probably losing the battle, but we aren't giving up on the war," Reichert said.