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PUC OKs permit for $300 million wind farm  

The state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a construction permit for a $300 million wind farm of up to 103 turbines southeast of White.

Construction is expected to begin in 2008 and be completed in a year or so, an official with White Wind Farm LLC told the three-member commission.

White Wind Farm is a subsidiary of Navitas Energy Inc., a Minneapolis developer of wind energy.

The permit for what would be the state’s largest wind farm and an accompanying 29-page document that lays out all conditions was approved with little discussion, few questions and no opposition.

Dennis Falken, chairman of a local review committee in the White area, said everything seemed in order.

“We feel we’ve had all our questions answered reference this project,” Falken said.

“Do you feel comfortable with the project moving forward with this?” Commissioner Steve Kolbeck asked.

“Absolutely,” Falken said.

The wind turbines would be located on about 93 acres dispersed through 25 sections of land on Buffalo Ridge, a geological area that’s home to several hundred wind turbines in nearby Minnesota. The 200 megawatts of power would be fed into the Western Area Power Administration grid.

The only questions raised by PUC staff or commissioners involved the level of noise from the turbines, why not all would carry flashing red lights to warn aircraft, and why one tower will be allowed on native, unbroken sod contrary to wishes of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Satisfied with the answers, commissioners approved it unanimously.

“This is great news,” Chairman Dusty Johnson said. “This is more development for Brookings County, and I think we’re looking at 10 to 12 jobs, and it’s exciting to see more renewable energy on the South Dakota landscape.”

Navitas, which also operates a 63-turbine wind farm in Lee County, Ill., said 50 to 75 workers will be needed for construction and 10-12 to maintain and monitor the project when operational.

“We’re glad to see you’re able to get through all the hoops and your transmission processes on track, and we look forward to continuing your construction process throughout the state of South Dakota,” said Commissioner Gary Hanson. “We’ve got another 400 miles across the state.”

Navitas signed a 20-year renewable lease with landowners to place turbines and associated infrastructure on their land. The company projects a cost of $9.8 million in 2006 dollars – minus any salvage value – if the project ends, all equipment is removed and the land is returned to its current condition.

The project would require 45 miles of underground cable and nine miles of aboveground cable linking the turbines. An electric substation would be built adjacent to an existing substation.

Associated Press

Siouzx City Journal

27 June 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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