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Wind farm repowering decision delayed  

Credit:  By Dave Thompson | Prairie Public | prairiepublic.org ~~

The owners of a wind farm near Valley City want to re-power the existing farm, by installing larger turbines and bigger blades.

But the North Dakota Public Service Commission isn’t yet ready to give it the go-ahead.

The Ashtabula Wind Energy Center was built by NextEra Energy. Part of the farm was sold to Otter Tail Power. NextEra wants to raise the capacity from its part of the center from the current 148.5 megawatts to 160.4 megawatts.

Commissioner Randy Christmann asked that a decision be postponed. He says he has some concerns about potential re-powering in the future. He sid the company wants to drop any reference to capacity numbers from the proposed Commission order.

“To completely eliminate that, means far out into the future, there is no capacity on it, and basically the sky’s the limit,” Christmann said. “I think that’s not the best way for us to go, and I think we should keep the capacity limits on them.”

But Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the Legislature, several sessions ago, passed what’s known as the “footprint” law – in that an energy company that gets a siting permit will be able to do pretty much anything it wants, within reason, as long as it is within that siting footprint.

“We’re seeing this in other facilities, such as pipelines, where they’re expanding beyond their capacity contemplated in the original filing,” Fedorchak said. “They’re using this procedure established in law.”

Christmann responded that the law also says the PSC must make sure there is “orderly” development of energy facilities – and he worries about congestion on the power grid.

“These 99 turbines could go from 1.5 megawatts to, hard telling hwo much,” Christmann said. “It cold cause enormous congestion problems, and that would not be orderly development.”

The PSC will hold a “work session” on the matter. Christmann also said he hopes the Legislature would take another look at theb “footprint” law.

Source:  By Dave Thompson | Prairie Public | prairiepublic.org

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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