PIERRE – Two projects in the James River Valley that would convert wind to electricity moved forward Tuesday.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved a public liaison person for Crocker Wind Farm in Clark County. The project received the commission’s OK earlier this summer.
Meanwhile the commission Tuesday set a schedule in a separate docket on whether Prevailing Wind Park could build in Bon Homme, Charles Mix and Hutchinson counties.
The evidentiary hearing starts Oct. 9 and possibly continues through Oct. 12. The commission’s final order would be due no later than Nov. 30.
The commission also allowed seven people to intervene on Prevailing Wind.
They are Gregg Hubner of Avon, Marsha Hubner of Avon, Paul Schoenfelder of Wagner, Lisa Schoenfelder of Wagner, Charles Mix County Commission Chairman Keith Mushitz of Lake Andes, Sherman Fuerniss of Delmont and Karen Jenkins of Tripp.
Lisa Agrimonti, a lawyer representing Prevailing Wind’s developer, said she didn’t object.
The public liaison for Crocker Wind is Steve Vanderbeek from HDR Engineering Inc., a business based in Sioux Falls. He has “extensive experience,” according to project lawyer Mollie Smith.
Vanderbeek has been a public liaison on projects for the state Department of Transportation, the state Game, Fish and Parks Department and a Rapid City utility company, Black Hills Power.
Amanda Reiss, an attorney for the commission staff, said she was part of a meeting earlier Tuesday with Vanderbeek and others. She said Vanderbeek would file monthly updates.
“Your resume looks great and that’s who we want in the field,” Commission Chairwoman Kristie Fiegen told him.
Vanderbeek said he’s covered a 20-county region. “I’m very used to traveling distances like this to respond to issues,” he said.
“I am thankful we have a public liaison here. You are treading new water,” Fiegen replied. She said he would be “the face of common sense” on the project.
On the Prevailing Wind project, the hearing is the first where any one can file rebuttal testimony, according to Kristen Edwards, a commission staff attorney.
“I think it’s a great step forward. I hope it works,” Commissioner Chris Nelson said.
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