A wind energy project that would sprawl across a township north of Hettinger won’t be heard Friday by the Public Service Commission.
The regulators had invited the public to a hearing in Adams County, but decided at a special meeting late Tuesday to postpone it until September.
Commissioner Brian Kalk said the PSC made its decision partly because the Adams County Planning and Zoning Commission hasn’t decided if the project meets its comprehensive land use plan and also because Thunder Spirit Wind failed to file a map showing the location of all 75 turbines in the time required by law.
A location map is to be filed seven days ahead of a hearing; instead, it arrived Tuesday.
The Adams County zoning board tabled a conditional use permit application when it met July 29. The board wants more time to decide if the 150-megawatt project fits with how the county should be developed and will discuss the matter again the week of Aug. 19. The board makes a recommendation to the county commission, which has final say.
Kalk said state regulators cannot pre-empt whatever the county decides in any event.
The PSC will wait until sometime in September to give the county time to mull the matter and decide whether it wants to approve the project that would be located primarily in Duck Creek Township, Kalk said.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty within the county how it wants their county to be developed with wind,” Kalk said.
He said the tardy location map filing was a first in his years at the PSC.
Thunder Spirit plans to invest about $350 million in construction and pay $875,000 in annual leases to landowners. It also would pay Adams County $650,000 in property taxes.
Jeri Lynn Bakken, who chairs the planning commission, said the wind proposal is the first major issue since the county adopted a comprehensive land use plan two years ago. She also said Thunder Spirit doesn’t propose bonds or reclamation if the turbines are taken out of commission.
She said zoners need to know if the company can waive the county’s requirement of a half-mile setback from buildings even if landowners sign off on it.
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