BISMARCK – Public hearings for the Brady Wind Energy Center project and its transmission line planned in Stark County originally scheduled for March 2 have been moved after the intervention of a local citizen group.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to continue the hearing during a special meeting after the Concerned Citizens of Stark County’s request for the hearing to be delayed.
The hearing on the wind farm is now scheduled for 8 a.m. March 30 at Dickinson City Hall, while a hearing on the transmission line will be held at 5 p.m. that same day.
The 87-turbine, 150-megawatt wind farm would stretch across the south side of the county between Dickinson and New England. The Stark County Commission approved the wind farm in December.
The Concerned Citizens of Stark County claim parts of parent energy company NextEra Energy Resources’ application for a certificate of site compatibility violate state and county regulations.
The group was previously granted intervenor status in the matter by an administrative law judge.
During the meeting, the commissioners cited a recent influx of information about the proposed wind farm as a reason to delay the hearing while they do more research.
Commissioner Brian Kalk said he thought granting a continuance was right thing to do, given the circumstances.
“We’ve got a group of people that live right in this neighborhood,” he said. “They’ve expressed concerns as to what they have in their own backyards, so I think it’s certainly appropriate.”
Commissioner Randy Christmann said he had been leaning to granting the continuance beforehand, but he was moved to reconsider when NextEra’s attorney described the costs in time and money the company would incur by delaying their plans.
He said he preferred having another date set for the hearing if the continuance was approved, to which the other commissioners agreed.
NextEra is also proposing the Brady Wind Energy Center II project, a 72-turbine wind farm would hug the northern border of Hettinger County across from the Stark County project.
Tom Reichert, a spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Stark County, said his group filed the petition to intervene because it needed more time to compile information to present at the hearing. Being volunteers, he said they don’t have the time or organization that NextEra has.
He also said many details of the company’s filings were not made available to the group until recently, and so they need time to go through those.
Reichert said the group is not opposed to wind development in general, but rather the specifics of Brady Wind and the county wind ordinances that it claims do not adequately protect citizens from possible adverse effects.
“Specifically the landowners who do not want to participate and be a part of the wind farm,” he said.
He said the group’s members are meeting Saturday to discuss the hearing.
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