The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Friday (June 8) voted to approve a permit to Crocker Wind Farm to build a wind farm in Clark County, just west of Watertown. The wind farm will include up to 120 wind turbines, 5.2 miles of overhead transmission and will have the capability to produce up to 400 megawatts of electricity.
The approval came from PUC commissioners Kristie Fiegen, Gary Hanson and Chris Nelson.
Crocker filed the application to construct the Crocker Wind Farm in December of 2017. The PUC held a public input hearing in February in Clark and an evidentiary hearing in May in Pierre. State law requires the commission to make its decision no later than six months after receiving an application for a wind energy facility.
“The Crocker Wind project has generated significant public interest,” said PUC Chairperson Fiegen. “The PUC worked hard to develop meaningful conditions that are responsive to the landowners, area residents and the applicant. I hope the decision today allows the process to move forward as smoothly as possible,”
Commissioner Hanson offered a condition, which was agreed to by both parties that there be a liaison for everyone involved. “I feel strongly that folks in Clark County be given a clear path to communicate if they have concerns during the construction or operation of the facility,” he said.
“Crocker has met the legal threshold to receive the permit,” said Commissioner Chris Nelson in making the motion to grant the construction permit with conditions. “State law outlines the criteria the applicant is required to meet and the PUC has thoroughly reviewed the application, testimony and evidence, as well as the public input, to arrive at this decision,” he said.
The Wind Farm plans to be operational by the fall of 2019.
The owner of the project, Geronimo Energy, says The Crocker Wind Farm is located approximately halfway between Watertown and Aberdeen, SD. The average wind speed, measured at 80 meters, is 8.8 meters per second, which is approximately 19.7 miles per hour. The prevailing wind direction is from the northwest and south.