A community divided by a proposed 100-turbine wind farm gathered under one roof Wednesday.
Prevailing Winds LLC says the project is around 36,000 acres, covering both Bon Homme and Charles Mix Counties. Before granting the developer a permit, South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission let the community have a voice.
It’s a mostly quiet, rural area now, but this could be the future home of a wind farm.
Before the turbines can go up, the project’s developer talks with those who’ll live nearby, leading to a crowded Avon Gym of those supporting, and against having wind turbines in their backyard.
The developer made a presentation, giving people an idea of the project’s goals. Project Manager Roland Jurgens says it would be a great benefit to the community.
“This project would provide enough electricity every year to power all of the load for 10 co-ops the size of Bon Homme and Yankton electric,” Jurgens said.
One of the people speaking out against the project is Gregg Hubner. We talked to him at his home before Wednesday night’s meeting. He has a lot of concerns, but one of his main worries is devaluing property in the area.
“We think that they’re trying to put these wind turbines in way too high of a populated area. It’s about I think 36,000 acres for 100 towers and in those acres there’s 80 or 82 homes that has people living in them,” Hubner said.
All of the public input will be considered by the PUC moving forward. Its chair says the commission will have a decision by the end of the year.
“Under state law for this application process, there’s a very defined time frame in which we have to have a decision within 6 months after receiving the application and I think that’s going to be December 28th,” Chair Chris Nelson said.
Until then, the debate in the community will continue.
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