The sure-to-be contentious hearings on a proposed wind farm east of Dickinson have been set by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
Commissioners approved the hearings during a special meeting Tuesday morning in Bismarck. The hearings will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, May 18 at the Dickinson State University Student Center at 900 Campus Drive.
Commissioner Brian Kalk said at Tuesday’s meeting that he expects more comments on the wind farm than on the transmission line. The transmission line hearing is set to start the day, with the hearing for the wind farm planned for 12:30 MDT.
A group, Concerned Citizens of Stark County, has visited county commissioners and published ads against the project, raising issues over a threat to land values, the effect on air ambulance and risks to public health. The group wants the farm to be re-located, but officials behind the project – helmed by Dickinson Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Connecticut-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC – made clear at a meeting last month that they have spent lots of time and money on securing the existing location.
“There’s some citizen groups that have formed on different sides of this wind farm and I recommend they come to the hearing,” Kalk said. “This is the first wind farm that I’ve seen that quite honestly has this kind of a footprint.”
Such hearings are a chance for public comments and concerns, which go on the formal record, and also include a presentation from the company on the logistics of the project.
NextEra Energy Resources, under Dickinson Wind LLC, applied for the wind farm in March and for the associated transmission line in April. The wind farm will surround the tiny town of Taylor – the reason for a lot of the citizen concern – and the 33-mile transmission line will run south along Interstate 94 to Belfield to bring the power to an existing Basin Electric Power Cooperative transmission system. Bismarck-based Basin Electric has agreed to a 30-year purchase agreement for the 150 megawatts of energy.
Up to 87 turbines total would be installed west of Richardton and will extend southwest to just short of Gladstone.
The concerned citizens’ group will hold a meeting on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Taylor Elementary School.
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