Articles from North Dakota
The $250 million Langdon Wind Energy Center near here could not begin to deliver wind energy throughout eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota without a new $10 million transmission line. The project - a 35-mile 115-kilovolt transmission line between Langdon and Hensel, N.D., along with substation improvements - is a joint effort between Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks, and Otter Tail Power Company, Fergus Falls, Minn.
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 ...
Wind energy developer Tim Simons says the queue is making business difficult. He is referring to the list of projects awaiting action by the Midwest Independent System Operator, a Carmel, Ind., -based power grid monitor that oversees electric transmission in the region. MISO manages a transmission "footprint" of nearly 1 million square miles and 100,000 megawatts of power in the Midwest. ...Dombek said MISO received about 80 applications in 2005, about 130 last year, and 190 so far this year. Together, projects in the MISO queue total 70,000 new megawatts of power. Of those, 55,000 megawatts would come from wind. North Dakota has 42 projects in the queue, nine of which have been approved, with 33 waiting.
Right now, MISO, headquartered in Indiana, has 290 projects in its queue, more than any in its history. All but 70 of them are wind projects. MISO manages a transmission "footprint" of nearly 1 million square miles and 100,000 megawatts of power in the Midwest. Not one - from a 1 megawatt wind turbine to a 1,500 megawatt nuclear facility - gets on the grid without an agreement. Its spokesman, Carl Dombek, said the agreements require studies to make sure there's room for the power, to determine where the power would go and what would happen downstream on the line. Dombek said the average wait now is at least 19 months. Similar to a checkout line, it doesn't matter the size of the order. First come is first served. ..."Wind is popular right now, and they're (FERC) taking notice," Dombek said. To put the 291 applications in MISO's queue in perspective, Dombek said one doesn't have to look back very far. In 2005, MISO received approximately 80 applications. In 2006, that number increased to 130. So far in 2007, they have received 190 applications, Dombek said. Taken all together, projects in the MISO queue total 70,000 new megawatts of power. Of those, 55,000 megawatts would come from wind.
The project's official name is "Capacity Expansion by 2020," or "CapX2020" for short. It is being driven by an alliance of 11 different utility companies throughout the region, which covers all of Minnesota as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The power line planned for this area is one of three 345 kV lines proposed at different areas of the state as part of the the CapX2020 project. The project also includes construction of one 230 kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids. A public hearing for residents of this area is scheduled for next Tuesday, in Cannon Falls. It is one of many meetings still to come during the CapX2020 planning process. ...Rate payers from all area power utility companies will see an increase in their bills as a result of the CapX2020 construction, he added. Though Fordice could not put a specific amount on how much the increase to utility bills will be - probably $1.50 to $2 a month - the project itself is going to cost $1.4 billion, which will be divided among all 11 utility companies.
The driver of a truck hauling a wind tower column that hit the underside of an Interstate 94 overpass near Casselton was fined $100 on Monday for violating his state-issued travel permit, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said. ...The truck, trailer and 114-foot-long tower column had a combined weight of 152,200 pounds, Hischer said. ... It's unknown whether the tower column is still usable. Christiansen said the column is sitting at Industrial Builders Inc. in West Fargo, and DMI won't look at it unless repairs are necessary. The trucking company is responsible for the bridge damage, Hischer said.
A wind tower column from DMI Industries in West Fargo that was being hauled on a semitrailer flatbed clipped the underside of an Interstate 94 overpass just east of this city, damaging it. No one was hurt, but traffic was disrupted while the mess was cleaned up, the Highway Patrol said. ...The impact about 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the westbound lanes scattered chunks of concrete across the road, damaging at least nine vehicles. The damage ranged from flat tires to punctured radiators, authorities said.
The sight of hulking wind turbine blades strapped to oversized semi-trailers has been known to unnerve motorists as the giant blades move through traffic destined for wind farms across the country. ...Gjovik said he has seen some trucking quotes of $15,000 to $20,000 and recently saw one for $27,000 for a shipment to Oklahoma. And those prices are only for one load of one or two blades. With each load containing one blade, it would take three loads to ship the blades needed for a rotor to run one wind turbine.
North Dakota may see the construction of more wind turbines - possibly some in the Jamestown area. Terry Wanzek, who farms west of Jamestown, said he signed an easement contract with FPL Energy for a possible wind farm on his property. "We are looking at additional opportunities in the state," said Steve Stengel, spokesman for FPL Energy, the firm that constructed the wind farm west of Edgeley and is in the process of building a wind farm near Langdon and expanding the wind farm in Oliver County.
The massive wind turbines have at least 15 years and up to 25 years of usefulness, as shown in Germany, Great Britain and other countries with long-time wind-farming experience. A lot can happen in 20 years or so. So it's extremely wise of the state Public Service Commission to think through what should happen if a wind farm ceases to operate. ...As a nation, we covet the energy from oil fields, coal mines and wind farms, but whatever form of energy is yielded, those who produce it for us have an inescapable duty of stewardship of the environment, and that includes the skyline where more and more wind turbines occupy the view.
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 wind-power industry has grown dramatically in recent years and shows signs of continuing the upward trend. However, the industry also faces increasing obstacles in exporting electricity because of transmission bottlenecks. That was a message industry figures made in presentations Wednesday to the Empower North Dakota Commission, a new board that will help steer state energy-development policy, at North Dakota State University.
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."
Renewable energy sources will continue to grow and are an important part of the country's energy future, but are only part of the equation because the nation is far from reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. ...Despite forecasted growth in renewable energy forms like ethanol, wind power, biomass and nonpetroleum-based fuels, the nation will continue to depend largely on fossil fuels and electricity generated by coal power plants, the committee was told. One reason is the country's forecasted increased consumption of fuel and electricity. “The key to our country's energy future is a mix,” said Gerald Groenewold, the director of the EERC. “Fossil fuels are a part of that.” ...Another wind challenge is the need for future transmission line capacity, said Chris Zygarlicke, the EERC's deputy associate director of research.
North Dakota ...has abundant resources in coal and wind, making it a logical place to produce energy for its less resource rich neighbors. ...Because the state is far away from the metropolitan areas that demand a lot of electricity, any extra power produced here will require a lot of transmission capacity to get it to its potential buyers. ... the main challenge is that many different interests have to come together and agree on terms before new power lines can be built. For even the most basic transmission construction projects, the different power companies that will utilize the lines have to agree how to split the costs of paying for the project. Also, some of the landowners along a route may object to the lines crossing through their property.
A worker at DMI Industries Inc. was killed while helping load large sheets of scrap metal onto a truck to be hauled away for salvage, the company says. The incident happened about 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, said Matt Gadow, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer.
There is a person near here who has had most everything done to his house to try to keep the noise out. The power company, from what I understand, is paying for trying to keep the noise out in his home. Nothing has worked. He still has the constant noise in his home. Unfortunately, the tower is on the neighbor's land. He is just going to have to put up with it. I had two couples come out looking at lots and both of them wanted front lots or lots at the top of the hill. When the women got here and looked around, they looked at the view to the north and to the south. No way, they said. We are not going to look at those towers the rest of our lives and both couples left. One of the couples bought 40 acres. The other couple would not buy around the wind charger area.
The location of nine turbines in the Oliver Wind II project will be altered from the original plan, requiring a return of the project to the Oliver County Planning and Zoning Commission next week. Oliver Wind II will go into full-blown construction soon, but changes with landowners and design mean that some of the wind turbines will be moved outside of the previously approved project area. County land use administrator John Wicklund said the change is a relatively small tweaking of the project and that the new locations will be adjacent to the land that was originally zoned for the project.
The grass around Minot may not be the only thing that's green in a few years, as Basin Electric Power Cooperative is looking at two potential sites near town on which to build a wind farm.
Whether to welcome industrial installations - for that's what wind farms are - should be judged carefully. That's why the 2007 Legislature directed its interim council to produce a coherent, comprehensive study of the siting and decommissioning of commercial wind farms. If North Dakota is to become the country's wind electricity leader, wisdom, and not anything less, must rule.