Library filed under Zoning/Planning from North Dakota
A moratorium on wind-related projects in Mercer County has blocked the construction of a wind farm, making Mercer the second county in central North Dakota to enact anti-wind ordinances. BISMARCK — Ongoing tensions over the construction of a new wind farm in North Dakota coal country have come to a head with Mercer County, N.D., imposing a moratorium on all wind-related projects.
“Although greatly improved, not all the project’s potential impacts could be avoided,” Link continued, adding that the majority of the project area is still within the Northern Missouri Coteau where there is “a higher degree of displacement risk associated with the development in this landscape area, as compared to other areas within the state” because migratory birds like to stop there.
Last week the Public Service Commission turned down a siting permit for a large (23,000 acres, 76 turbines) wind farm project in Burke County. ...Sources tell me there is some interest in perhaps removing some of the PSC’s siting authority, or moving it to another state department such as the Agriculture Commissioner.
Prior to the vote, the commission considered sending the matter back to planning and zoning, as requested by Pure New Energy USA ...“I think this has gone on long enough … I just don’t feel comfortable sending it back and creating more workload for our people,” said Commissioner Kathleen Jones, who made the motion to deny permits for the project.
Burleigh County Commission agreed to assume Morton Township’s permitting authority ...All three of the Morton Township supervisors — William Nicholson, Brian Dralle and Daymon Mills — are participating landowners in the project, so it would be a conflict of interest for the trio to decide whether or not to issue a special use permit for the wind farm.
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
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.
Brady Wind II is a separate project and a separate power-purchase agreement than the Brady Wind I project in southern Stark County. The state Public Service Commission heard 15 hours of testimony March 30 regarding that project and may not make its final decision to either approve or deny it until late May. Combined, the two phases of the Brady Wind Energy Center would put 159 turbines generating about 300 megawatts of power in a rural area.
Commissioner Brian Kalk says during his 8 years on the PSC he's never seen interest in a wind farm project like he saw during Wednesday's meeting ..."for a long time nobody really talked about the negatives of wind farms, but we are seeing a lot more organized opposition to the wind farms.
The much-anticipated hearing comes six days after a district judge dismissed an injunction filed by a local citizen group against the county’s commissioners and planning and zoning board, which approved the permits for the 87-turbine wind farm in December, as well as the company aiming to build it.
"Of the 40 landowners who agreed to have turbines, half are residents and half are absentee owners,” said Reichert, adding that the group is holding out for deeper setbacks, so turbines would have to be located 2,000 feet from a property line, not from a residence. “Otherwise, that residence is being used to make up the setback and we think that’s easement trespass,” Reichert said.
The hearing on the wind farm is now scheduled for 8 a.m. March 30 at Dickinson City Hall, while a hearing on the transmission line will be held at 5 p.m. that same day. The 87-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm would stretch across the south side of the county between Dickinson and New England.
“It’s [the petition] not designed to stop the wind farm,” Wert said. “It’s just designed to protect the people that don’t want one really close to their place of residence.” The way the ordinance is set up, a person could have their house adjacent to the property line.
Commissioners say the choice for green energy was one of the most difficult decisions they've made. No matter what was decided on the wind farm, commissioners say one group would have left unhappy.
The Stark County Commission voted unanimously to stop accepting applications for wind farm conditional-use permits for a period of two years at a regular meeting Tuesday at Stark County Courthouse. The move comes after the commission approved the 87-turbine Brady Wind Energy Center
A muffled groan could be heard from members of the audience as Stark County Commissioner Jay Elkin voted “aye,” the third and deciding vote that approved a conditional-use permit for a wind farm to be erected in southern Stark County. Both the Stark County Commission and Planning and Zoning Board convened at respective special and regular meetings Tuesday morning at Stark County Courthouse to vote on the Brady Wind Energy Center proposed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources.
Ramberg made a motion to approve the conditional use permit, which was seconded by Commissioner Wayne Aberle. The measure passed on a roll call vote 3 to 2, with Hanson and Commissioner Dan Kalil voting against. Kalil, in making his vote, added, “We just cleaned the blood off the carpet from the last planning and zoning meeting. I hate to see another one of these come down the line.”
A windfarm north of Tioga continues to raise concerns as the project winds through the permitting process.
Approval of the reading sparked residents to reach out and voice their opinions to county commissioners, who reported they received hundreds of phone calls within the past few days regarding the matter.
The meeting, which lasted more than five hours, drew support and opposition from those attending. Board members voted 6-2 to approve the permit. The project now goes to the Stark County Commission, though it is yet to be determined when it will appear on the agenda.(Editor's note: The permit was denied by the County Commissioners)