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Morton OKs permit for wind project

MANDAN, N.D. – The Morton County Commission has approved a special use permit for the Sunflower Wind Project LLC, located about three miles south of Hebron.

County planner Daniel Nairn said up to 55 wind turbines will be placed in Morton County and 25 more in Stark County.

The company will pay about $100,000 for the special permit, Nairn said, and previously paid a $1,000 deposit.

The project will generate 110 megawatts of power for Infinity Wind Power of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Infinity Wind Power manages Sunflower Wind LLC. Nairn said the company will link onto the Dickinson Mandan Transmission Line grid, belonging to the Western Area Power Authority.

Casey Willis, project manager for Infinity Wind Power, said the company plans to start building the project in early 2015. It would start operating by late 2015, he said. The company will sell power generated to Basin Electric, according to Willis.

Before work starts, Infinity Wind Power must obtain a certificate of compatibility from the state Public Service Commission, Nairn said. The county tax and equalization office also must approve a building permit. An environmental impact study is required, he said, costing about $500 per tower installed.

The Stark County Commission also approved a special use permit for its 25 towers. The project includes an underground line collection system, a substation, an interconnection facility, underground communication cables, access roads, a meteorological tower and an operation and maintenance building.

Nairn said all of the property owners within the boundary of the wind project have signed easements for the project.

He said there are four occupied residences within the project area and two occupied residences within a half-mile of the project area.

The special use permit requires:

* Nearly a 500-foot setback from county and township roads.

* One-quarter mile setback from occupied residents to prevent nuisances like noise.

* Disturbed soil must be remediated after the project is completed.

* All county and township roads will be repaired after the wind tower project is installed and completed.

* The company must work with highway departments to repair streets.

* Special rescue equipment training will be provided to Morton County rescue responders serving the area.

* The company must obtain necessary permits for the project.

Commissioners on Monday denied a request from Infinity to reduce the special use permit cost from $100,000 to $30,000. The fee is based on a county formula that charges one-tenth of 1 percent of capital building costs.

Building costs are roughly $180 million, Willis said. Nairn said the county hasn’t determined how much of that amount is capital costs.