The S.D. Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a construction permit for what probably will be the second major wind farm in Brookings County – a $300 million project 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 of Minneapolis.
PPM Energy of Oregon already has built roads and turbine foundations for the Minn-Dakota Wind Farm that will straddle the border with Minnesota. The plan is to finish it by the end of this year, spokeswoman Jan Johnson said.
Once completed, the White Wind Farm would be the state’s largest. Its permit 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.
“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 93 acres dispersed through 25 sections of land on Buffalo Ridge, a geological area that’s home to several hundred wind turbines in 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.”
The PPM wind farm is a 150-megawatt project, with 56 megawatts of its capacity in South Dakota and the rest in Minnesota, Johnson said. The power will be sold to Xcel Energy.
A 51-megawatt wind farm is planned near Wessington Springs in January 2009.
Navitas said 50 to 75 workers will be needed for construction and 10 or 12 to maintain and monitor the project when operational.
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.
By Staff & Wire Reports
Published: June 27, 2007
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