For the third time in less than a week, members of the state Public Service Commission were hearing testimony at a public hearing in our area.
Last week, they heard about plans for pipelines at hearings in Stanley and Williston.
And today, they were in Rolette to take testimony about a proposed wind farm.
Rolette Power Development wants to erect 59 wind turbines on this land south of Rolette to generate about 100 megawatts of electricity.
The project involves almost 15-thousand acres of farm and ranch land between Rolette and Rugby – and the turbines would be less than ten miles north of the existing Rugby wind farm.
Local rancher and former state legislator Merle Boucher boo-shay says leases have been negotiated with landowners in the area.
His partner, Warren Enyart of Finley, North Dakota helped develop a slightly larger wind farm in Griggs and Steele Counties, and says getting PSC approval is a key step in the process.
He says it’s important to keep the process moving in order for the project to be built to allow the buyer – or “off-taker” as he calls it – IRS “safe harbor” tax breaks that expire at the end of next year.
(Warren Enyart, Rolette Power Development) “We’re asking the Public Service Commission to give us some leeway in terms of siting 59 sites. Those would accommodate six different kinds of turbines so we haven’t specified in our application which of those six we would use. We want to leave that up to the potential off-taker and more importantly, the guys that have the turbines that are in this IRS safe harbor.”
Today’s PSC hearing was designed to collect information about the project – and allow people in the area a chance to voice their support or opposition to the plan.
PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak says the commission wants to hear all sides of the plan.
(Julie Fedorchak, Public Service Commission Chair) “This project seems to have a fair number of folks in the area who are excited about it – we got some letters of support from some of the local leadership. So we’re looking to see if there are others in the community who have concerns and how we can go about reviewing this application, making sure that, if we approve it, it’s the best possible fit for this region.”
The PSC is likely to issue a decision on the wind farm application in the next six weeks.
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