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PSC debates Tatanka Wind decommissioning plan

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Public Service Commissioners have approved a new decommissioning plan for the Tatanka Wind Farm in Dickey County.

It was approved on a 2 to 1 vote.

The PSC had earlier approved a plan for the turbines to be removed, using cranes. But Commissioner Randy Christmann said Tatanka has now proposed a lower-cost method.

"It would be kinda like the old films, of guys out with an axe, cutting down trees," Christmann said. "You cut around the bottom, and then hook onto it with bulldozers and pull it over."

The new plan would cost $9.5 million. The existing plan has a $15.7 million price tag.

Christmann opposed making the change. He said the Commission wasn't given a lot of information about how the new method would work. He said the company representatives reviewed what it described as "confidential documents," without allowing the PSC to see what was in them. Christmann said he also had "serious concerns" about costs.

"I worry, just about every day, that under the current system for the wind farms that we have, whether we have enough financial assurances," Christmann said. "It's kind of an unknown. These are big turbines, and we don't really know what it's going to cost when they start being deconstructed."

But the other two commissioners voted for the change.

"I think the company made a very compelling argument, that this would help reduce (soil) compaction, by not having to bring the same-sized equipment in that would cause more disruption to the land," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "They still have to put this land back into production, once the wind facility disappears from the landscape."

Commission chairman Julie Fedorchak said to deny this plan would discourage innovation.

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