The developer of a wind farm in McHenry County near Velva has been fined $60,000 because a handful of its wind turbines do not comply with a setback provision negotiated between the company and the North Dakota Public Service Commission.
It concerns the Meadowlark wind farm.
The settlement required a 1400 foot setback from occupied homes, as well as roads and power lines. Two of the turbines were too close to homes, two were too close to a state highway, and one is near a power line. In the case of the homes, the homeowners have signed waivers.
The PSC did agree to modify its settlement – but levied the fine.
Commission chairman Randy Christmann said he understands mistakes can happen – but this fine sends a message.
"In some of these industries, once they make the decision to start, it's like their hair's on fire," Christmann said. "They go so fast."
Christmann said in this case, fully 10 percent of the turbines are in violation.
"There has to be some kind of a message sent," Christmann said. "You have to go slow enough to make sure you're doing it right."
The Meadowlark farm is 102 megawatts – and the PSC said it’s close to 80 percent complete.