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PSC approves Adams County wind farm

The Public Service Commission has given its OK to the siting of a wind farm in Adams County.

But the vote was not unanimous.

The Thunder Spririt wind farm will be near Hettinger. It was originally to generate 150 megawatts of power. But the approval was for just over 100 megawatts of generation.

“We have our renewable energy objective of 10 percent,” said Commissioner Randy Christmann, who cast the lone ‘no’ vote. “The objective does not say ‘at least 10 percent,’ and it doesn’t say ’10 percent or more.’ It says 10 percent. We’re far beyond that already.”

MDU will be buying the power. And Christmann wonders how this will affect MDU customers’ bills. But Commission chairman Brian Kalk says the company has met the requirements for building a wind farm., and the rate discussion is not appropriate for this case.

“That’s a discussion when MDU comes back for rate recovery,” said Kalk. “When MDU comes in for its next rate case, we can fully scrutinize their wind investments, all of their coal investments, all their natural gas investments. That’s the time when we go through what’s appropriate in our role of rate-making.”

Kalk says the company is anxious to get started on building the wind farm.