Wind farm could bring 400 jobs
Credit: By Gwen Albers | Capital Journal | Jul 18, 2022 | www.capjournal.com ~~
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The proposed wind farm development in Hughes and Hyde counties could create more construction jobs in the area, if the project moves forward.
Lead developer Anthony Crutch said Birmingham-based ENGINE North America’s project would create 400 construction jobs and the company wants to work with contractors in the area.
“ENGIE plans to source local support for construction,” Crutch said on Monday.
The completed project will require eight to ten full-time employees.
Construction on 71 wind towers is expected to start in late 2022 and take about one year to complete, he said. Twenty-seven towers will be built in Hughes County and the rest will be in Hyde County.
“We’ve signed approximately 80 leases total between Hughes and Hyde County with local landowners,” Crutch said.
Before building the $300 million development, ENGIE must get approval from the Hughes County Board of Adjustments. 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., in Pierre.
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.
The project also needs approval from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, Crutch said.
ENGIE would like to develop a nearly 47,000-acre area and has leased 24,591 acres in eastern Hughes County in Harrold and Pleasant Valley, Webster and Butte townships. Hyde County officials approved their portion of the development one year ago.
Crutch said ENGIE began working on the project around 2016 and most property owners were receptive to leasing their land.
“That’s how we were able to work with them,” he said. “There’s a financial benefit for the landowner.”
That benefit is based on production and the number of wind turbines on a property, Crutch noted.
The lease typically remains in place for the life of the project, which on average is 30 years.
Crutch said they chose Hughes and Hyde counties after landowners supported the project, for the area’s great wind resource and capacity on the transmission grid.
“It’s located right next to an already operational wind farm owned by ENGIE,” he said.
ENGIE has 12 operational wind farms in the United States, including two in South Dakota.
Hughes County commissioners recently approved an agreement with the developer for possible damage to roads during construction.
“We are trying to ensure we protect the county in the process if roads are damaged,” County Manager Kevin Hipple said. “The basics are if they break it, they will fix it.”
The county has designated what roads ENGIE can use when hauling components or concrete for building the bases.
“Virtually all county roads are gravel and most have weight limits at certain times of the year,” Hipple said. “And there’s bridge (weight) limits as well.”
He noted that most of the traffic will come from Hyde County and only a small number of roads will be used in Hughes County.
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