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Environmental assessment done for Clark County wind proposal  

Credit:  By Bob Mercer, State Capitol Bureau | Capital Journal | www.capjournal.com ~~

The Crocker wind farm proposed in Clark County has 14 turbine sites that would be swapped for other ground because they are on federal grassland easements, according an environmental assessment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The federal agency released a report Wednesday on the project. Geronimo Energy, the project developer, wants to build 120 wind towers on a variety of privately held properties, including the 14 federal easements.

The report said Geronimo Energy would voluntarily swap land with the federal government on a two-to-one basis after construction has finished.

That means the project would provide about 30 acres to the government afterward.

The minimum federal standard for land swaps is one-to-one.

The project would generate up to 400 megawatts of electricity.

It would connect to a transmission network that carries power for North Dakota-based Basin Electric. The cooperative wants to buy electricity generated at the Crocker project.

“Based on the surveys conducted to date, there were no species identified by Crocker as high concern, meaning that the project would not pose a significant risk to any resources that could not otherwise be avoided, minimized, or mitigated,” the assessment said.

The state Public Utilities Commission set the project application aside last year because the turbine sites at that time weren’t in definite locations. South Dakota has a six-month limit on the time the commission can spend on a wind application.

The federal report Wednesday said the Crocker project began with 217 possible sites for wind turbines. That was reduced to 120. Twenty-seven of the possible sites were removed from federal grassland easements.

The project would have 43.6 miles of access roads including 5.3 miles on grassland easements. There would be a 5.2-mile overhead transmission line that connects to Basin’s transmission line between Groton and Watertown.

There would be 260.5 acres of federal grassland easements temporarily affected and 15.1 acres permanently affected, according to the report. Another 13.4 acres of wetland basins would be temporarily affected but none would be permanently.

Non-easement acres temporarily affected would total 1,560.6. Permanent effects would occur on 142 acres.

More than half of the land for the project is grassland. Nearly all of the remainder is crop ground.

The report says construction could take 12 to 18 months. The report outlines a 13-month schedule that starts in September and finishes with restoration in October 2019.

The project’s life cycle is listed at 30 years. The report estimated that landowners would receive more than $2 million annually during the first 20 years of the project.

The nearest nest for bald eagles is about six miles north of the project.

Source:  By Bob Mercer, State Capitol Bureau | Capital Journal | www.capjournal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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