State regulators approved a second large wind energy project in southwest North Dakota Wednesday, doubling the potential energy capacity the company looking to develop in the region hopes to provide.
The proposed $250 million Brady II Wind Energy Center is to be located in Hettinger County with a total capacity of 150 megawatts of wind energy which will be sold to Basin Electric Power Cooperative. North Dakota Public Service Commission members unanimously gave their approval for up to 72 wind turbines to be constructed over a more than 17,600-acre area.
Brady Wind, LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Wilton, Conn., based NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, submitted its proposal in January.
The smallest turbines would have the capacity to produce 1.79 megawatts of electricity and the largest 2.1 megawatts. Some underground collection lines and cabling leading to the project would be placed in southern Stark County.
Commissioner Brian Kalk said the approved siting permit includes strict turbine setbacks of 2,000 feet from homes in the project area and 2,640 feet from homes owned by those not participating in the project. He said the setbacks were negotiated based on county standards and standards the PSC follows.
“This is the most restrictive … the commission has ever done,” Kalk said, adding that the PSC tries to work closely with counties to respect their requirements if they’re more restrictive than the state’s.
Commission chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said the order included that Brady Wind install a new lighting system that would make blinking lights on the towers only turn on at night when passing aircraft are detected. The company must do so by Dec. 31, 2018.
She said this newer technology, which is subject to FAA approval, has been required in recent wind projects that have come before the commission. Fedorchak said it addresses concerns by landowners over the lights impact on the view of the night sky.
“This will be the new standard,” Fedorchak said.
The project will be adjacent to another wind farm of similar size. Last month the PSC approved an up to 87 turbine, 150-megawatt capacity facility in Stark County to be located about 15 miles south of Dickinson.
“North Dakota is going to continue to be a major energy developer,” Kalk said.
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