Library from North Dakota
We all see the hundreds of wind power turbines which dot the beautiful landscape of our region. We're told, by the supporters of these wind farms, that they're a boon to our society. That they're reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing cheap, reliable energy. Except, this week I spoke with a man from the University of California, Berkeley who says that's a lot of bunk.
ASHLEY, N.D. - Only four members of the public spoke at an almost five-hour public hearing Wednesday held by the North Dakota Public Service Commission on the proposed Merricourt Wind Power Project.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota regulator expects a decision on the final state permit for a wind farm northeast of Valley City to come by the end of the summer.
So when do taxpayers blow off wind energy and demand that it stands on its own? When do we have a say in how much of the cost of a wind farm we're willing to bear? When do we demand more transparency on how much wind energy is raising our electric rates?
BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved two sets of rule changes that strengthen requirements for future wind projects and ensure they are properly decommissioned at the end of their use. The rule changes focus on two different areas related to wind projects: (1) decommissioning requirements for when a wind farm is retired, and (2) lighting systems.
HB1378 requires that all wind turbines install aircraft detection lighting systems. All wind energy projects approved after June 5, 2016, must have systems in place by Dec. 31, 2019. Projects approved prior to that must have lighting systems in place by Dec. 31, 2021.
“We want to respond very clearly,” the lawmakers wrote. “There are NO TRADITIONAL electric generation sources being developed or even planned in North Dakota, due to the last administration’s efforts to regulate fossil fuels out of existence, and primarily because of the PTC.”
The wind energy bill passed by the North Dakota House of Representatives is an effective compromise, according to Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley.
“We’re starting to have more opposition at wind farm hearings,” said Christmann, explaining that major issues in public hearings tend to be the sound turbines produce, the visual aspect and setbacks. From a regulatory standpoint, he said it comes down to a delicate balancing act in terms of expanding the state’s energy production and ensuring there’s enough capacity on the grid for electricity.
Proponents of House Bill 1378 told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that installing technology that keeps the lights from flashing unless aircraft travel within a certain range will improve the view shed for area residents. ...living near wind energy projects want one thing, Peace at night from blinding red light.”
The legislative attack on wind power intensified in the closing days of the session’s first half. Amendments cropped up that would have imposed a moratorium on wind energy installations in the state.
A proposal that would have created a two-year moratorium on new wind energy development in North Dakota was stripped from legislation that ultimately passed the Senate as a study of the state's energy plan Wednesday, Feb. 22.
Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, said his amendment was intended to “take some of the edge” off of the original moratorium proposal. ...“What I’m looking for is reliable, affordable electricity,” Cook said. “One of the things that we’re responsible for, I would think anyway, is to make sure that the … electricity of North Dakota is always available to the citizens of North Dakota and we don’t suffer through a blackout.”
Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah, Senate Bill 2314’s primary sponsor who supported the amendment, said she believes in an “all-of-the-above energy policy,” but the wind energy industry is “heavily subsidized” by the federal government. “If everybody is paying taxes fairly and being regulated fairly, I think the market will work itself out,” said Unruh
A proposal in the North Dakota Legislature would change the allocation of taxes paid by the Courtenay Wind Farm, seen here in October 2016. Local governments would see about 30 percent less than they do now under the proposal. The Courtenay Wind Farm pays about $850,000 per year in taxes.
Billings County Commissioners rejected the application for a 114-turbine wind farm on Tuesday. ...The majority of the audience voiced concern over the proposed wind farm, sighting the visual impacts as a deterrent for tourism, potential decrease in land value and the proximity of the towers to the Painted Canyon Visitor Center and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Northern Plains Electric Cooperative system engineer Ashten Dewald said the advice she gives people interested in installing a solar system is to look at the costs and benefits. “If you want to be eco-friendly and install solar panels for that reason, great, but at this point, it’s not really justifiable with the low cost of North Dakota energy,” Dewald said.
Stoltz said wind's production possibility is the least during winter and summer when electricity is needed the most and the wind blows the least... The energy source that carries the baseload of the energy grid need is coal.
Commissioner Randy Christmann said when he first saw plans for the project and how close it was to housing developments and prime development property, "I thought this was going to be a riot." But he and other commissioners commended the Morton County Commission for how it addressed setbacks and other concerns.
Commissioner chairwoman Julie Fedorchak urged counties to make sure ordinances are in place for wind facilities before developers approach them with projects. Under Morton County’s standards, the Oliver III turbines will be set back at least 1,400 feet from occupied homes and 679 feet from the property lines of non-participating landowners.