As Yankton County commissioners gave final approval to a wind energy system zoning ordinance Thursday afternoon, they said it appears as though a wind farm is coming to the area.
Just before the meeting, the commission was given documents showing that the Clipper Windpower Development Company, Inc., of California has mortgaged $145 million for investment in Yankton County.
“Apparently, there’s plans for a wind farm in Yankton County,” Commission Chairman Allen Sinclair said, noting he hadn’t been aware of any potential projects until the mortgage documents appeared.
“We know they’ve been testing the winds out (in Turkey Valley Township),” he said. “It is kind of ironic that, here we are, dealing with the last step of adopting this ordinance to deal with wind towers when, apparently, it’s going to be a time that the ordinance is going to come into play.”
Any such project would have to go through the zoning process, and no documents have been submitted yet, Sinclair said.
“I think it will be very interesting to see what their plans are and find out what they’re doing,” he added. “If they make that sort of investment in Yankton County, that would be a very significant investment.”
No further information was available on the potential Clipper Windpower Development Company project Thursday night.
The ordinance regarding the development, construction, operation and decommissioning of small and large wind energy systems facilities in Yankton County met with little fanfare.
It lays down the guidelines for placement of small wind energy systems, which would have a rated capacity of no more than 100 kilowatts and would be “primarily intended to reduce on-site consumption of utility power,” as well as large or commercial wind energy systems. The eight-page document includes regulations for tower height, setbacks, noise and a variety of other considerations.
The language was largely taken from other counties, such as Brookings County, which have already adopted wind energy system requirements, commissioners said. The commission also had the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission review the amendment.
“I think (wind power) is a coming thing for us and everybody in the United States,” Commissioner Bruce Jensen said. “I think it’s great that we’re getting this (amendment) now, so we don’t end up in a courtroom someplace. We’re going to have an ordinance here that hopefully will make everybody work out everything.”
No public testimony was given for or against the ordinance, and the commission gave it unanimous approval.
By Nathan Johnson
6 June 2008
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