A 13-mile 230-kilovolt electric transmission line connecting the proposed $300 million community-owned 157-megwatt Luverne Wind Farm with a Minnkota Power Cooperative transmission line took a step closer to reality Monday.
But the approval process for the wind farm itself stalled, as developers asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission to continue the public hearing at a later date.
It seems the exact locations of the 72 wind turbines in the south half of the project have not been determined yet, according to Warren Enyart, secretary and board member of M-Power LLC, co-developer of the wind farm with National Wind. The company also has not decided what type of wind turbines will be used on that south project.
While a date has not been set for the hearing to continue, PSC members indicated it could happen within a few weeks.
M-Power and National Wind are proposing a 105-turbine community-owned wind farm, to be located on 20,480 acres – or 32 sections – mostly in southwestern Steele County, as well as eastern Griggs County. It will be North Dakota’s first large-scale community-owned wind farm.
Developers hope to begin construction by early fall, with completion in summer 2009.
The plan is to build the wind farm in two separate projects, with 33 General Electric 1.5-megawatt turbines in the North Project and 72 yet-to-be-determined 1.5 megawatt turbines in the South Project.
M-Power was organized in 2006 by the Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone and the Griggs/Steele Wind Development Group.
M-Power, in turn, signed an agreement with Minneapolis-based National Wind to co-develop the wind farm.
M-Power consists of 66 individual investors or owners, most of them landowners where the farm will be located, according to Enyart. All easement options necessary to build the project have been obtained.
The project also includes some nonfarm investors. But no government or public entity is involved in the ownership.
Landowners will be paid $4,000 annually per megawatt of power. M-Power owners also will share in profits from the sale of electricity to regional power companies.
A 13-mile transmission line would connect the wind farm to a Minnkota Power Cooperative transmission line near Pillsbury, N.D., in Barnes County.
PSC members asked the developers to provide more precise locations for transmission line poles and to provide specific data on avian markers or other devices designed to prevent migratory birds from flying into the transmission line.
The developer’s initial plan is to place avian markers – ball-shaped markers – near wetlands only. Whooping cranes are known to fly near the area. But no whooping cranes were detected in the latest migration, according to Enyart.
29 July 2008
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