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Windfarm location approved

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the location of North Dakota's largest wind farm.

It will be built in Pierce County, north of Rugby -- and it includes 100 new wind turbines. The turbines will produce about 150 megawatts of electricity.

Commission President Tony Clark calls the project a great example of energy diversification.

"Across this country, over the last 10 years, we have come to depend too much on one form of power for electric generation -- natural gas," said Clark. "About 9 out of 10 new generation units have been natural gas, and that's a terrible direction to go. We're seeing it now because of the tightening supplies of natural gas. We're seeing increases in our residential heating bills because of it."

PPM Energy of Portland, Oregon, is developing the project. PPM is a unit of a Scottish electric power company.

"We may start with some limited construction activity later this fall," said PPM's Tim Seck. "We expect the bulk of the work to occur in 2006."

The PSC placed a number of conditions on the siting permit. Seck says he's okay with that.

"I think they did a very good job," said Seck. "We can certainly abide by it and live with it."