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Planning of Adams County wind farm questioned

North Dakota Public Service Commission member Randy Christmann decried the handling of changes to a $350 million wind farm near Hettinger at a meeting Wednesday.

The PSC approved a plan that would allow the building of 43 wind turbines in Adams County last fall. But energy company Thunder Spirit has requested new turbine locations as the federal government freed up new tracts of land in Duck Creek and Holt townships. The land was previously restricted airspace.

“I don’t recall being told on the application before that this wasn’t really where you wanted to build, that it was a space keeper,” Christmann said. “You’re always pressing us with fast decisions, but it doesn’t seem like you know what you want. I don’t feel like I’m getting as clear and upfront information as I want to have.”

Thunder Spirit representative Dan Albano contended that he was not hiding anything. He noted an appeal to the Federal Aviation Administration during the application process, believing an appeal to the FAA for more land use might be rejected.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said she would like to hear from landowners on the matter, including those who will lose or gain wind turbines on their land because of the new plan. She also encouraged Albano to communicate Thunder Spirit’s plans to landowners more formally.

Members of the public can submit comments and requests for a formal hearing to the PSC on the new wind farm layout by July 23. Full maps of new turbine layout plans are available on the PSC’s website, www.psc.nd.gov.

Adams County commissioners will vote on changes to the plan during the first week of July, Albano said.