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Some officials fear wind 'ghost farms'

"If it's difficult for me [Public Service Commissioner Susan Wefald] to figure out who's doing what (in wind development), the average person doesn't have a chance," she said.

BISMARCK, N.D. - The boom in wind energy development in North Dakota has some state and local officials wondering what the landscape might look like years down the road.


Public Service Commissioner Susan Wefald is working to get townships and counties information to help them plan orderly development. She has cautioned them that there might come a time when some wind farms are abandoned, which she terms "ghost farms."

Wefald said she worries that in the quest for economic development, some local governments might not get all the information they need.

"I'm not getting a lot of questions," she said. "That's the scary part.

"If it's difficult for me to figure out who's doing what (in wind development), the average person doesn't have a chance," she said.

Several wind farms are either operating or under development around the state. Under state law, the PSC can regulate only those farms that generate 100 megawatts or more of power. That leaves local jurisdictions to handle the smaller ones, which account for most of the farms in North Dakota.

Brad Crabtree, who lives in Spring Valley Township in Dickey County, helped draft zoning regulations for wind farm development in that area.

Crabtree said he also... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BISMARCK, N.D. - The boom in wind energy development in North Dakota has some state and local officials wondering what the landscape might look like years down the road.


Public Service Commissioner Susan Wefald is working to get townships and counties information to help them plan orderly development. She has cautioned them that there might come a time when some wind farms are abandoned, which she terms "ghost farms."

Wefald said she worries that in the quest for economic development, some local governments might not get all the information they need.

"I'm not getting a lot of questions," she said. "That's the scary part.

"If it's difficult for me to figure out who's doing what (in wind development), the average person doesn't have a chance," she said.

Several wind farms are either operating or under development around the state. Under state law, the PSC can regulate only those farms that generate 100 megawatts or more of power. That leaves local jurisdictions to handle the smaller ones, which account for most of the farms in North Dakota.

Brad Crabtree, who lives in Spring Valley Township in Dickey County, helped draft zoning regulations for wind farm development in that area.

Crabtree said he also wonders about the possibility of wind energy companies going out of business in the future if federal tax credits are no longer available, and leaving non-operating turbines on the prairie.

Spring Valley Township's zoning regulations require that abandoned towers be removed, along with the top 4 feet of a turbine's foundation.

John Spitzer, chairman of Ecklund Township near Wilton, north of Bismarck, said he believes wind energy companies will be responsible, and that individual agreements landowners have with companies will give them adequate protection.

"Maybe I am naive, but my attorney is not," he said. "And I don't think I'm naive, either. These (developers) are not going to do something bad, because they know how word travels."

Oliver County State's Attorney John Mahoney said the county did not attach any conditions to a permit for a wind farm there, though it did reject two proposed turbine sites.

"We probably should be more involved in it," he said. "I like to think they're not going to be ripping us off, but there probably should be zoning regulations."

PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., is planning what will be the state's largest wind farm, in northern Pierce County. Spokeswoman Anita Marks said wind energy companies work carefully with individual landowners.

"These are 30-year agreements," she said. "We're careful to meet local requirements."


Source: http://www.grandforks.com/m...

JAN 1 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/877-some-officials-fear-wind-ghost-farms
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