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Ruso Wind farm could be back before the PSC for approval

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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Public Service Commissioners Randy Christmann (l), chair Julie Fedorchak, and Brian Kroshus

A proposed wind farm in Ward and McLean Counties could be revived – after permits were denied because of concerns with turbine lighting.

Ruso Wind had asked for a waiver on the light rules, after the Minot Air Force Base raised objections about its “Aircraft Detection Lighting System.” That system uses radar technology to turn the lights on only when an aircraft is nearby. Instead, Ruso Wind proposed the normal blinking red light system.

In 2020, the Public Service Commission voted 2 to 1 to “not approve” the application, saying state law did not allow waivers – and Ruso Wind was granted an “Abeyance of Decision.”

The 2021 Legislature changed the law, to allow waivers. And because of that, the PSC voted to lift that abeyance. PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak said this allows Ruso Wind to proceed with its application, if it should desire.

"I don't think we have a strong indication of what the next steps the company wants to take," Fedorchak said. "I know the company has been in contact with PSC staff, and I do anticipate we'll see something on this in the not-too-distant future. Exactly what that is, I do not know."

On a related note, Basin Electric is asking for a waiver on lighting requirements at its “Prairie Winds North Dakota One” facility south of Minot, because the Minot Air Force Base has raised objections to the installation of an “ADLS” system there. The Commission will hold a hearing on the waiver request Nov. first.

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