Library from South Dakota
“This major legislation doubles the amount of time citizens have to prepare for and resolve issues during wind evidentiary hearings,” said PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. “It gives citizens a stronger negotiating position, and guarantees that all parties to a docket are entitled to an evidentiary hearing. The new law also provides local governments with more influence in wind and solar development.”
In the eyes of a lawyer, which is not very romantic, when a wind farm contains steel, wires, underground cabling, electrical components and concrete we have potential legal liability. Wind farm infrastructure is not owned by the landowner. It is owned by the wind farm operator. A landowner has no right to control or interfere with a wind farm. Who may be liable and to what extent is always an interesting legal question. A court calls this the allocation of liability. It is best not to become involved in a question on the allocation of liability. General liability insurance coverage is one way in which liability risks are reduced.
State commission member Chris Nelson said escrow arrangements provide financial protection in case a wind farm's owner goes bankrupt. The money would be returned to companies if it isn't needed. "It's a good bill for landowners and a good bill for developers," Nelson said.
Financial decommissioning safeguards, if in place, would have a considerable effect on the interest of local landowners, farmers, ranchers and neighbors in proposed wind farms. It is a common response to a proposed wind farm for a landowner to say, 'Oh yes they will be here today – but gone tomorrow.' If 'tomorrow' comes don't landowners, farmers, ranchers and the neighbors of a wind farm have a right to the proper and complete process of decommissioning?
During the summer of 2018, Campbell County Commission discussed a possible need of a wind farm ordinance, Since that time, the county held no hearings or workshops that would provide the public an opportunity to comment on the new law. The only scheduled public hearing is set for February 7th, 2019 where the County will present the ordinance. Attorney David L Ganje has expressed concern that the County is rushing the process and, in doing so, failing to allow for a free exchange ideas about the wind farm ordinance. In August, 2018, Attorney Ganje recommended the commission convene several formal and informal public meetings and hire experts in order to deliver a well-crafted ordinance.
That no vote came from Senator Jim Bolin (R-Canton). “Wind power is a sensitive subject in southern Lincoln County,” Bolin said. “The subject has many concerns. ...I am not against wind energy, but it is a very intense, localized issue in my district.”
Special thanks to Attorney David Ganje for contributing this informative essay on wind energy leases.
A public meeting was held on Monday, December 10, 2018, at the Martin Activity Center to discuss plans for Pass Creek Wind, a utility-scale wind energy project planned for Bennett County north of Martin. Approximately 35 people attended the meeting including Bennett County Commissioners, local ranchers and members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
James Madson, the project development manager, said there still isn't a purchaser for the electricity. ...The commission Thursday also approved a transmission line of 230-kilovolt capacity that would cross 34 miles of Grant and Codington counties and connect two 300-megawatt projects to Otter Tail Power's Big Stone South sub-station.
Both the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Department of Health are playing Russian Roulette with the health of their constituents if projects permitted in 2018 use ten year old data for guidelines on safety and quality of life. Inadequate protection by policy makers will result in jeopardized public health and exorbitant legal expenses to defend inadequate guidelines based on outdated data.
The state Public Utilities Commission ruled Friday that opponents could subpoena information from county governments and witnesses could testify by telephone or videoconference when a wind-farm project comes up for a permit hearing next month.
We pay for these projects through taxes and increased utility rates for power we don’t need or use. People won’t know what hit them until the towers are built. That’s too late. These sacrifice quality of life, health, safety and residential property values for the greed of a few.
The most powerful wind turbines ever seen in the state could soon be built in southwest Minnesota. The state needs to approve the proposed wind farm. The industry is ramping up turbine size in the name of efficiency, but the skyscraper-sized machines are also attracting more public opposition.
Attorney David Ganje of South Dakota submitted a memo to the state's Legislative Research Council (LRC) that responds to the LRC's recent memo on wind energy. In particular, Attorney Ganje challenges the LRC for not emphasizing the importance of project decommissioning. The introductory letter accompanying the memo is provided below. The full memo can be downloaded from this page. The LCR memo can be accessed here.
Dakota Range Wind I and II will initially place towers in Codington and Grant Counties. A followup project would place more towers into Grant and also into Roberts County. Attorney for the interveners is John Wiles of the Watertown firm Wiles & Rylance.
The commissioners’ approval of the three motions Tuesday didn’t mean they were approving the wind farm at this time. Instead, they decided the project was in compliance with the county zoning ordinance, which takes the process to the next level. The commissioners were split in their votes.
The knotty issue of a haul road agreement between Apex Energy and Codington County got a bit untangled at Tuesday’s county commission meeting. The tentative agreement is designed to allow work to proceed on the Dakota Range I and II Wind Project and protect the county against potential road degradation during the expected 30-year lifespan of the project.
Ordinances governing wind energy systems, which are to be developed within a county, have a wide ranging effect on the local geography and economy. Local participation in ordinance drafting is a great advantage of county lawmaking. This leaves an opportunity for county commissioners to make the public, its local residents, “partners” in this lawmaking. There should be little uncertainty in ordinance language, it should be transparent, and the end product should favor open public participation in wind farm applications.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) held a public hearing on the wind farm last month in Avon, attended by about 200 people. The four-hour meeting generated testimony from both sides for the controversial project. ...The PUC expects to make a final decision on Prevailing Wind by October.
Minor damage to a Codington County road has one citizen concerned about what will happen when construction on wind towers begins in full.