Hughes County could get its first wind farm in the future.
ENGIE North America of Santa Barbara would like to develop a nearly 47,000-acre wind farm that spans Hughes and Hyde counties, Eric Booth, planning director and building official for Hughes County, said. Of the proposed 71 wind towers for the North Bend Wind Project, 27 would be in eastern Hughes County. The development is reportedly expected to cost $285 million.
ENGIE has leased 24,591 acres in Harrold and Pleasant Valley, Webster and Butte townships, Booth said. The company will need permission from the Hughes County Board of Adjustment before developing the land.
“Harrold is a small town, maybe 100 people,” Booth said. “It has longtime family farms and it’s two, three and four miles from farmhouse to farmhouse.”
A public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on July 27 in the large courtroom on the third floor of the county courthouse, 104 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre.
Hyde County officials approved their portion of the development one year ago, Carrie Stephenson, director of equalization and zoning administrator for the county, said.
The land in Hughes County is zoned for agriculture District A, which allows farms and single-family homes. It also allows wind farms with a conditional-use permit, Booth said.
“This is the only zoning district in Hughes County that has a conditional use (for wind farms),” he said.
Booth said Hughes County can expect financial benefits.
Hyde County got its first wind farm in 2003, County Auditor Marilyn Ring said. FPL Energy in Florida operates the 27 turbines.
“There was an agreement in place with that company where they made payments to the county each year from 2004-2014 that was based on CPI, plus the property taxes,” Ring said. “The extra payments totaled $340,158 from 2004-2014.”
Hyde County collected $74,254 in property taxes from FPL in 2022, she said.
Hyde County also has Triple H, which includes 92 towers. The first year the county received $86,118; that was the payment in 2021 for its operations in 2020.
“So that was split equally with the Highmore-Harrold School District 34-2,” Ring said. “This year we received $843,181 so that was split equally with the HH School District.”
As for the current project, Hyde County expects to get $67,400, with half of the money going to the school district, she said.
Booth said ENGIE hopes to begin construction in spring 2023. He believes it will take six months to complete.
The Capital Journal reached out to Anthony Crutch, lead developer with ENGIE North America in Birmingham, Alabama. Crutch did not want to comment without first talking to the company’s public relations department.
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