Library filed under Energy Policy from North Dakota
The idea for expanding corporate farming from wheat to wind should be discarded. The time for railing against the monied interests in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York and, now, Florida, for taking advantage of North Dakota, has passed. (Although, there might be other good reasons to rail at them.) It might make good news copy, but it doesn't make good common or business sense. Burleigh County residents should do what they must to regulate wind farms.
Early work on a unified wind turbine policy was met with many questions at Thursday's Burleigh County Planning Commission meeting. Bismarck City Planner Gregg Greenquist said the policy should be split between "household wind energy systems" and larger wind farms. Greenquist said a large expansion is planned for a wind farm near Wilton into the Burleigh County jurisdiction.
The wind filling the sails of alternative energy might slacken if regulators fail to address the concerns of wind farm neighbors. The new industry, which is supposed to be one of the jewels in the renewable energy crown, will lose its appeal rapidly if the rush to build wind farms blows out traditional rural living values. The signs should concern the industry and regulatory agencies.
State regulators approved the location of a new wind farm in east-central North Dakota despite complaints from some nearby residents about potential disruptions from turbine noise. The North Dakota Public Service Commission on Wednesday said one of the project's 80 wind turbines must use an alternative location to avoid disturbing a rural bed-and-breakfast business.
Stutsman County officials should not be cowed by a wind developer whose business model condones theft of wind rights or be misled by a state legislator. They are to be commended for trying to protect landowner rights and safeguard the reputation of a growing and beneficial wind industry. If only our Dickey County Commission, the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the Legislative Assembly would show similar leadership.
The PSC reissued state certificates Wednesday to Iberdola Renewables Inc. to take over the Rugby Wind farm project from PPM Energy. PPM got the original certificates in 2005 to build 100 turbines that would put out 150 megawatts of wind power near Rugby. Iberdola proposes to 71 larger turbines, which would still put out 150 megawatts. Construction is to start around Oct. 1.
Jeff Metzger, president of Just Wind, wants to see a set of rules put in place for wind farm development in Stutsman County. "We're looking at 400 turbines in two projects in Stutsman County," he said. "We're not the only people looking at coming to North Dakota. We need your support to put a zoning ordinance in place for wind farm projects." ...Zoning regulations would define things like setbacks from residences, roads and property lines. The regulations would define where wind turbines could be constructed.
Coal mines always have been big business. Wind farms are getting to be. And when heavy-hitting companies such as North American Coal Corp., Minnesota Power and Florida Power and Light are eyeing an area of real estate, you bet it's consequential. The real estate isn't paltry; it's a lot of acreage in Oliver and Morton counties. Minnesota Power and FPL want to build separate wind farms. But the coal company says, "Wait a minute, we may want to mine where you guys are talking about putting up wind turbines. That won't work."
North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer has the right idea when he said this week it is time to bring coal and wind-power industries together to talk about development in the state. FPL Energy of Juno Beach, Fla., is being joined by Minnesota Power of Duluth, Minn., in pursuing wind farms in Oliver and Mercer counties. FLP Energy already has filed papers with the state PSC for its 250 square-mile proposal in the two counties. Minnesota Power is expressing a desire for its own wind farm in Oliver County. The primary problem arises, however, if these wind projects with their expensive turbines are targeted for land that holds coal to be mined.
While public hearings are meant to air both the positives and negatives about a project, the Public Service Commission heard nothing but good about the Ashtabula Wind Farm during a hearing held Friday at Valley City. The PSC hearing concerned the citing of a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm planned for Barnes County. During the same session the commission also took testimony on a route permit for about 9.5 miles of electric transmission line associated with the wind farm. Both are projects of Ashtabula Wind, LLC, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, and are planned for Barnes County.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative will cut out the middleman and go directly to the wind on its own. The cooperative, long associated with lignite power and gasification plants, has formed a subsidiary to build a 77-turbine wind farm along Highway 83 south of Minot, where it installed two turbines in an earlier project. Public scoping meetings were held Wednesday and construction is scheduled to start next year. The $240 million wind farm will add 115 megawatts of electricity to Basin's power portfolio when it goes on line in 2010.
The message gets repetitious: There needs to be more electrical power transmission capacity in and from North Dakota ... more transmission capacity ... more ... So, isn't the answer as simple as stringing a bunch of lines? The fact is, no. The power has to have somewhere to go and must travel by an extraordinarily complex network of technology. For our area it's managed by a strange entity called the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator. ...The snag is the process of hooking in a new power source. ...Midwest's queue has 224 wind projects, a 64 percent increase in one year. Not all will make it through the process; actually only 32 percent will end up connecting and producing. About 40 percent of requests drop out before even commencing the required FERC study. And 10 percent of those in the queue don't help matters at all, because they're just sitting on approvals ...
Most of North Dakota’s wind turbines have barely begun operating, but state regulators have started drafting rules that would apply if the massive towers quit producing electricity. ...North Dakota’s proposed rules say the property that hosted a wind turbine site would have to be restored to ‘‘substantially the same physical condition’’ as existed when the site was built. ‘‘To the extent possible, the site must be restored and reclaimed to the topography and topsoil quality that existed just prior to the beginning ... of construction,’’ they say. A wind turbine would be targeted for decommissioning if it had not produced electricity for at least one year, the proposed rules say. Removing a wind tower and its associated equipment would have to be done within 18 months after it reached the end of its use.
North Dakota's largest wind farm already has growth plans, state regulators said as they approved a shortened application period for siting 27 new wind turbines near Langdon. ...The commission approved the present wind farm's site plan, and its president, Susan Wefald, said regulators' familiarity with the area may help siting work for the expansion. "There is not a lot of new land that's going to be added," Wefald said. "A number of the turbines are going to be placed on land that has been sited already."
Other renewable energy legislation is in the wind, now that North Dakota's wind energy development is firmly established with commercial wind farms in Burleigh and Oliver counties in this region and others elsewhere in the state. The North Dakota Renewable Energy Partnership has outlined a concept to restore wind farm siting authority to the Public Service Commission for wind projects of more than 20 megawatts. The oversight would include the issues of landowner compensation and perimeter setbacks. The PCS's authority was stripped of anything under 100 megawatts in the last session.
FARGO - A requirement that at least 20 percent of electricity sold in this city come from renewable energy sources by the year 2020 is headed for a vote in November. Representatives of the South Agassiz Resource Council have turned in 3,677 signatures to the city auditor's office to get the issue on the Nov. 7 election ballot. About 2,850 signatures were needed, Auditor Steve Sprague told city commissioners in a memo.
Suddenly wind farms are beginning to pop up across North Dakota, and two new projects have been announced this week in northwestern North Dakota.