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PUC gives Tatanka Ridge Wind Project permit to construct

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted on Nov. 26 to approve the construction of the Tatanka Ridge Wind Project to be built in Deuel County. The decision allows Tatanka Ridge to move forward with plans to construct a wind energy facility capable of generating up to 155 megawatts of energy, near the towns of Toronto and Brandt, South Dakota.

A settlement agreement presented by Tatanka Ridge and PUC staff was previously accepted by the commission in October. Issues not addressed in the settlement – funding for decommissioning, risk associated with ice throw, cumulative sound impacts, and the potential impacts to whooping cranes – were presented at an evidentiary hearing in Pierre, Nov. 4. The commission’s action this week was to rule on those issues and determine if a permit should be granted.

“The conditions both parties have brought us today, in conjunction with the settlement stipulation we previously approved, have cleared up most issues and resolved my concerns,” said Gary Hanson, PUC chairman.

The proposed wind project will span a 27,900-acre project area and include up to 56 wind turbines. Other components will include access roads, above/underground electrical collector lines, communication systems, a collection substation, one permanent meteorological tower, a less than 0.5-mile long 345-kV gen-tie transmission line, and an operations and maintenance facility.

“The conditions being proposed are consistent with what we’ve done in past dockets, and they ensure that landowners and the folks in that area are appropriately taken care of,” said Chris Nelson, PUC vice chairman.

Tatanka Ridge’s permit will include over 40 conditions that must be adhered to during the construction and operation of the project. Ice throw, land restoration, sound level, shadow flicker, the potential impacts to whooping cranes and future decommissioning of the project are all among the details the conditions address.

“I appreciated the public input meeting that we had and the concerns that people brought to us,” said Commissioner Kristie Fiegen. It was noted that there had been not intervenors.

Tatanka Ridge Wind filed its application with the PUC on June 17, 2019. The PUC held a public input meeting in Toronto on Aug. 7.

The company expects to complete construction on the $216 million project in 2020. Tatanka Ridge has entered into agreements with two buyers for the electricity produced by the project, one with Google for 98 megawatts and one with Dairyland Power Cooperative for the balance.

The Tatanka Ridge Wind Project docket can be viewed on the PUC’s website at www.puc.sd.gov, Commission Actions, Electric Dockets, 2019 Electric Dockets, EL19-026 – In the Matter of the Application by Tatanka Ridge Wind, LLC for a Permit of a Wind Energy Facility in Deuel County, South Dakota.