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Ruso wind farm decision in 'abeyance' until 2021 Legislature meets

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The company proposing a wind farm in McLean County has been granted an “abeyance of decision” on its siting application, until the 2021 Legislature finishes its work.

The Ruso Wind Project has been the subject of a dispute over whether it can install “ADLS” lighting technology, which is required of wind farms by state law. “ADLS” stands for “Aircraft Detection Lighting System.” It replaces the red flashing lights on the wind towers – something that neighbors to wind farms have complained about. “ADLS” uses radar technology to turn on the lights only when an aircraft is nearby. But the Air Force has objected, because of the wind farm’s proximity to the Minot Air Force base.

Ruso submitted an application to the Public Service Commission, asking for a waiver of the “ADLS” requirement. But on a 2 to 1 vote, the PSC voted to “not approve” the application. That motion was not a denial, per se.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the company is hoping the 2021 Legislature will revisit the issue.

"I have not been hearing directly from legislators on this matter," Fedorchak said. "But I have heard from the wind industry that they intend to bring forward proposals to address this."

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Fedorchak said she thought there would be enough "wiggle room” for the Commission to grant a waiver. But she was outvoted.

"I found the law to be clear and not allowing wiggle room to approve this," said Commissioner Randy Christmann.

Christmann said he's been hearing that the Legislative intent was to allow waivers in these circumstances. But he said the final bill didn't have those waivers.

"That's why I nerve chose to make a motion to deny the project," Christmann said.

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