Library from North Dakota
The sure-to-be contentious hearings on a proposed wind farm east of Dickinson have been set by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
David Montgomery, chairman of the board, said he will recommend suspending any pending projects in the 1-mile territory surrounding Williston now that the city has announced its intent to exercise its jurisdictional authority in those areas.
Krank said he has spent weeks traveling to various wind towers throughout the state. He believes the noise levels towers generate have become a major concern. “Noise is definitely a problem,” he said. “You can hear the whooshing sound of propellers from several thousand feet away.” But even more troubling than noise levels, Krank said, was the decrease in land value as a result of wind farms.
Whooping cranes are endangered while the piping plover is considered a threatened species. The incidental take permits would be issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and exempt the wind farm operators from criminal prosecution if endangered or threatened species were killed by the turbines.
Most of the questions about a wind farm proposed to surround Taylor came from those who had little power over it: residents in the town who don’t own the land with turbines on it. Nevertheless, the 87 turbines will be seen from the town — currently with few viewscape obstructions — from virtually every angle.
Commissioners were divided on the issue but voted 3-2 to make no recommendation on a proposal to put up meteorological towers in the area where Tradewind Energy wants to develop a windfarm.
The purpose of the presentation and discussion was only to help the Tioga commission determine whether to recommend the county approve the permit for meteorological towers. Even this small step has generated an intense debate over property rights, regional energy needs, and desires to maintain North Dakota’s idyllic scenery.
The Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission tabled the company’s request for a conditional use permit for some testing towers after several landowners expressed concerns. The commission asked for input from the City of Tioga before making a recommendation to the county commission for approval of the permit. ...The Tioga Airport Board has voted against the project, according to President Chris Norgaard, due to concerns the project may affect future airport approach routes used by pilots.
A North Dakota Public Service Commission public hearing in Ashley regarding a proposal for revisions to the Merricourt Wind Power Project has been rescheduled. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at the Ashley City Hall, 113 1st St. NW, in Ashley. The hearing was originally scheduled to be held Monday.
Two leading bird conservation groups, American Bird Conservancy and the International Crane Foundation, have sent a joint letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) voicing strong concerns about renewed consideration of the Merricourt wind energy project in North Dakota.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commented in February 2010 that “an adverse effect to whooping cranes is likely” from the project and recommended EDF not start construction until it obtains an “incidental take” permit, which allows a landowner to proceed with an activity that would otherwise result in the illegal killing of an endangered or threatened species.
A major concern of those opposing wind energy is their belief that landowners would have to pay to either remove the structures, which can involve millions of dollars, or to maintain them, even after their lifespan is complete and are no longer operational. Many also consider a decommissioned turbine site to be an eyesore and negatively affect the landowner’s property.
In a first for the state, the North Dakota Public Service Commission has required a wind farm owner to provide financial assurance that it can cover the future costs of reclaiming the site when the wind turbines reach the end of their lifespan.
Cramer was one of 54 members of Congress to sign a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last month arguing that a one-year extension of the PTC would cost taxpayers more than $13 billion. He acknowledged that the PTC’s expiration could mean fewer projects under development right away, but he said the wind industry can “stand on its own.”
Work continues on the $640 million CapX2020 high-voltage power line that will connect a new substation near Mapleton to the Twin Cities early next year.
Geronimo Energy plans to construct 100 turbines as part of the wind farm but has listed 127 potential locations. Courtenay Wind Farm’s planned production of 200 megawatts makes it the largest wind farm in North Dakota to be licensed as a single unit. Estimated cost of the project is $350 million.
North Dakota officials grudgingly looked the other way as Minnesota regulators continued to approve more of what they viewed as inefficient renewable energy projects. Those projects increased the utility bills of Xcel’s 80,000 customers — from Fargo to Minot — by an estimated $5.7 million a year. The systemwide cost for ratepayers is about $92 million.
The North Dakota Administrative Code provides that after the 10th year of operation of a wind turbine, the PSC “may” require the turbine’s owner or operator to secure a form of financial assurance” to cover anticipated decommissioning costs. Last September, the PSC sent notices requiring the owners of four wind projects to submit updated decommissioning plans within 30 days.
The first wind farm project planned for Stutsman County will seek approval under the county’s zoning ordinance Wednesday, according to Casey Bradley, county auditor and chief operating officer for Stutsman County. The zoning ordinance was originally passed in 2009, updated in late 2013 and details the allowable locations for the wind turbines and required road maintenance and upgrades.
Kalk said Adams County approved the project with setbacks of 2,640 feet from occupied structures. “This is by far the most restrictive (setback)… the board has been involved in,” Kalk said. He said the PSC typically uses a 1,400-foot setback ...Kalk added that he’s in favor of letting the county determine what they think is appropriate.