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Merricourt Wind Project going forward in western Dickey County moving ahead

A wind farm project in southern North Dakota that was first heard by the Public Service Commission nearly six years ago may be headed back to the PSC.

Otter Tail Power Co. filed an application in April for an advance determination of prudence and a certificate of convenience and necessity for the Merricourt Wind Project with the PSC. The application included a $175,000 filing fee.

The Merricourt Wind Project is a 150-megawatt wind farm near Merricourt in western Dickey County. The project’s 13,000-acre footprint extends over parts of Dickey and McIntosh counties.

Information on the cost of the project was redacted from public copies of documents filed by Otter Tail Power in April. The cost of the project was estimated at $250 million in 2016.

The PSC initially approved the Merricourt Wind Project in 2011 after an application from EDF Renewable Energy. The project didn’t proceed when Xcel Energy canceled its contract to purchase the electricity generated by the project.

The PSC held another hearing on the project in 2015 when EDF Renewable Energy redesigned the wind farm to utilize 75 turbines, each with 2 megawatts of capacity, rather than the original 100 turbines rated at 1.5 megawatts.

In November 2016, Otter Tail Power Co. announced it had agreed to purchase the Merricourt Wind Project. The documents filed in April by Otter Tail said EDF Renewable Energy will complete construction of the wind farm and Otter Tail will take possession after completion.

Construction schedules in the documents submitted to the PSC show road and foundation construction starting in September 2018 and turbine installation beginning in June 2019.

During construction, crews of between 50 and 150 people will work on the project. After completion, about 10 workers will maintain the wind farm.

When operational, the project is expected to pay about $700,000 per year in royalties to area landowners and $700,000 in property taxes to local taxing districts each year.

The PSC has appointed an administrative law judge to hear the case but has not set a date or location for the hearing.