The planned Crowned Ridge electrical wind project, owned by NextEra Energy Resources, moved a step closer to realization Monday night when the Codington County Board of Adjustment unanimously approved a conditional use permit allowing for the construction of 164 wind towers in northern Codington County.
The board’s approval came after a five-hour meeting where board members, which included Codington County Commission Chair Myron Johnson, heard public testimony from a few dozen citizens and energy representatives both for and against the project.
“We gave everyone who wanted to speak an opportunity to speak,” Johnson told the Public Opinion Tuesday.
The board’s approval comes a week after the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission gave its approval for the similar Dakota Range I and II, which is owned by Xcel Energy, wind projects to construct up to 72 turbines and related facilities, including maintenance and support structures as well as associated electrical transmission lines, across approximately 44,500 acres in northeast Codington County as well as Grant County. Apex Clean Energy has plans for Dakota Range III and IV in the works within that same area.
According to documents associated with the meeting, the 164 towers, totaling approximately 370 megawatts, would be spread out across the Germantown, Leola, Rauville, Waverly and Kranzburg townships. NextEra Energy plans to build more towers within the Crowned Range project in Grant and Deuel counties, pending possible approval from those counties. If the construction of those towers is authorized in those counties, the Crowned Ridge farm could have an electrical capacity of 600 megawatts.
According to a document submitted by Tyler Wilhelm, NextEra Energy project manager, each tower is expected to measure approximately 485 feet tall, including the blades.
Even when taking the split reaction to the project into account, Johnson said the planning commission approved the project’s requested conditional use permit with a big picture in mind.
“After listening to about 30 hours of testimony (which included public hearings on recently revised wind ordinances), researching it and getting information from other counties and wind farms… we do the best that we can and look at what’s best for the entire county. Not just for a few individuals,” Johnson said. “We have to understand that we have a lot of natural resources. We can do a lot of things as a county if we work together.”
With the county board’s approval, Johnson said the Crowned Ridge project will go before the PUC for consideration. According to Johnson, that hearing could come later this month or next month.
In the event all permits are issued, Wilhelm’s document anticipates the Crowned Ridge wind project would break ground this winter with the goal of beginning commercial operation the following winter.
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