Sixty-two of the interveners can stop fighting the Crocker Wind Farm proposal in Clark County.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission made the decision Tuesday.
They can do as they choose with information they previously received because developer Geronimo Energy didn’t previously request confidential treatment, commissioners said.
“Once it’s public information, it’s public information,” Commissioner Gary Hanson said.
“I don’t know that Crocker has been treated fairly in this,” Commissioner Chris Nelson said.
But Nelson added he wasn’t sure the commission had legal authority to provide protection Geronimo Energy now requested.
Noted Hanson: “I struggled to find a way to agree with Crocker on this because of fair play.”
Hanson said he hoped the information wouldn’t be misused.
Two interveners remain. They contend some of the turbines would interfere with bird populations that use Reid Lake waterfowl refuge and with a private airport.
The commission starts a three-day hearing on the application May 9.
The 62 jointly asked to drop out after the company wanted to know reasons for their involvement.
Reece Almond, a Sioux Falls lawyer for the interveners, said he couldn’t find any authority that prevented withdrawing.
Almond opposed the company’s request that the withdrawers destroy the information they had received.
“I don’t have anything to hide,” Brett Koenecke, a Pierre lawyer representing Geronimo Energy, responded.
Commission staff lawyer Kristen Edwards said she didn’t object to the withdrawals.
Edwards said information in the commission docket is publicly available to anyone and the appropriate venue for any future challenge would be circuit court.
Koenecke said there weren’t any depositions taken. Koenecke said he didn’t think there was any confidential information on the commission record.
Mollie Smith, a Minneapolis lawyer for Geronimo Energy, said there is confidential information that wasn’t filed.
Smith said documents provided to interveners contained information that wasn’t confidential.
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