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Hearing set for Stark County wind farm as company files application for companion site

BISMARCK – North Dakota utility regulators set a public hearing Wednesday for a proposed wind farm in Stark County, as the developer behind the project formally applied to build a companion wind farm in bordering Hettinger County.

Brady Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Wilton, Conn.-based NextEra Energy Resources, applied in December for a site permit for the Brady Wind Energy Center, an 87-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm in southern Stark County about six miles north of New England.

This week, the Public Service Commission received a second application for the Brady II Wind Energy Center, a 72-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm in Hettinger County, just south of the first project.

The proposals come after the Stark County Commission denied a conditional use permit in May for NextEra’s $250 million Dickinson Wind project, an 87-turbine wind farm that would have straddled Interstate 94 between Gladstone and Richardton.

“My understanding is they feel this is a suitable location,” PSC member Brian Kalk said of NextEra’s new proposals.

NextEra spokesman Steven Stengel said the company hopes to start construction on the Brady wind farm later in the spring.

Opponents of Dickinson Wind had complained that the turbines would spoil scenic views and discourage people from visiting the area. NextEra withdrew the application in June.

Brady Wind also has drawn opposition. About 50 people attended a town hall meeting in Schefield last month to present reasons why their neighbors should reject the projects, the Dickinson Press reported.

The public hearing on the Brady Wind Energy Center is scheduled for noon March 2 at Dickinson City Hall, preceded by a 10 a.m. hearing on a proposed 230-kilovolt transmission line in Stark County that would support the wind farm.

Kalk said one of the questions asked will be the status of county approval of the projects.

“The counties hold the cards on these things,” he said.