Stutsman County could issue the final permits necessary for the construction of the Courtenay Wind Farm in the next two weeks, according to Casey Bradley, auditor/chief operating officer for Stutsman County.
“We will approve the road maintenance agreement next week,” he said. “They (Geronimo Energy) will have to fund $1 million into an escrow account to cover costs.”
Geronimo Energy officials were unavailable for comment on its plans and for a possible construction start date.
Geronimo Energy plans to construct 100 turbines as part of the wind farm but has listed 127 potential locations. Courtenay Wind Farm’s planned production of 200 megawatts makes it the largest wind farm in North Dakota to be licensed as a single unit. Estimated cost of the project is $350 million.
The road maintenance agreement is a joint agreement between Geronimo Energy, owner of the planned Courtenay Wind Farm, Stutsman County and the townships in the area of the wind farm. The agreement covers topics such as inspection methods prior to and post construction, insurance requirements and easements. Geronimo has already approved the agreement.
“It really has gone smoothly,” Bradley said. “We reached an agreement that protects the county and township roads in the project.”
There are between 25 and 30 miles of roads within the footprint of the Courtenay Wind Farm.
The other step required prior to issuing a wind farm permit is establishing addresses for each of the 127 potential wind turbine locations. Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, said this is essential so that first responders can quickly locate these sites in case of a construction accident.
“We’re still in process,” he said. “We don’t have any experience addressing a wind farm. This project covers a large area on multiple roads.”
Bergquist said state law requires any addressing process to be coordinated with the U.S. Postal Service even though it is unlikely mail would ever be delivered to any of the wind turbines.
The mapping process will group wind turbines located near each other into the same address much like a group of homes in a rural housing development. Stutsman County officials hope to use the same turbine numbering system as Geronimo Wind for the unit numbers within the address.
“We want to make this as simple as possible for everyone,” Bergquist said. “If something happens the caller is more likely to know the number assigned by the company than anything assigned by us.”
Once the addresses are assigned, the information is updated into the computer mapping system used by the county dispatchers. These same maps are available on computers in Stutsman County Sheriff’s vehicles, ambulances and some fire equipment.
While the wind farm will employ an estimated 20 workers during operations, construction of the project is estimated to require about 200 workers this summer.
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