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Wind farm plans call for turbines in Grant, Roberts counties

A new 36-turbine wind farm under consideration in Roberts and Grant counties would be the third in that area for Apex Clean Energy.

The Virginia-based company is planning Dakota Range Wind III in the years to come. According to a map showing the approximate sites for the turbines, it will be in the southwest corner of Roberts County and the northwest corner of Grant County.

Senior Development Manager Mark Mauersberger said it will be the third 150-megawatt project for Apex in northeastern South Dakota.

Residents in Roberts County got an opportunity earlier this month to ask questions about the project. Mauersberger said about 25 people attended, but residents weren’t unfamiliar wind energy proposals.

“I suspect a lot (of other developers) came and went because they didn’t have transmission (capacity for wind energy),” he said. “Now these are happening because of the Big Stone to Ellendale (N.D.) project.”

Otter Tail Power and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. are building the 163-mile transmission line, which will run south through Brown County and cut across northeastern South Dakota, including Day County. The expected cost is between $293 million and $370 million. It should be done toward the end of 2019.

That will allow the first two Apex wind projects to get going.

Apex Public Affairs Manager Brooke Beaver said electricity produced by Dakota Range Wind I and II will be sold to Xcel Energy. According to American News archives, the estimated cost for Dakota Range I and II is $380 million.

The sites for those turbines are to the south in northeastern Codington County and in southwestern Grant County, according to a company map. Construction will begin once the transmission line between Big Stone City and Ellendale is finished, Mauersberger said. They should start producing energy in 2021, he said.

Local and state permits for Dakota Range Wind III have yet to be obtained, Beaver said. A buyer for the energy has also yet to be determined.

A construction schedule for Dakota Range III isn’t set. Mauersberger said 98 percent of the landowner agreements have been obtained, and environmental assessments have been done. The next step, he said, is permitting.

Beaver said local conditional use permits will be needed from both Roberts and Grant counties and state permits are needed. Mauersberger said not only does the Public Utilities Commission need to decide on the plan for the wind turbine development, which is a six-month review process, but a permit is also needed for a 6-mile transmission line. That process could take up to a year, he said.